Wisconsin at Illinois Odds, Expert Pick & TV Info
When: Saturday, Jan. 31, 9 p.m. ET
Where: State Farm Center, Champaign
TV: Big Ten Network
Opening NCAA Basketball Lines: UW favored by TBA
Why Bet On Wisconsin?The Badgers avoided a huge upset on Saturday in beating Rutgers 61-54 at Madison Square Garden. Sophomore forward Ethan Happ finished with a career-high 32 points to lead the way. Bronson Koenig added 10 points for UW, which overcame a nine-point deficit over the final 3 minutes, 11 seconds of regulation and won despite shooting 12.0 percent (3 of 25) from 3-point range.
Happ, the reigning Big Ten Co-Player of the Week, came into Saturday the Badgers’ leader in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals in conference play. He dominated offensively for Wisconsin, while adding six rebounds. Rutgers did not have any answer for Happ. The sophomore imposed his will down low for long stretches and snared the game-tying basket with two seconds remaining in regulation when Rutgers opted not to foul him.
The Badgers (18-3, 7-1 Big Ten) finished at 33.3 percent overall, but it took a red-hot closing stretch to get to that mark. Over the final 8:11 of the game, the Badgers went 11 of 14 from the field with 29 points in 15 possessions.
Both the field goal percentage and 3-point percentage were season lows for Wisconsin. Rutgers finished with a 44-41 rebound advantage but the Scarlet Knights committed 19 turnovers that turned into 17 points for the Badgers.
“Obviously, not exactly a thing of beauty,” Coach Greg Gard said after his team overcame field goal droughts of 13:52 and 7:19. “But thankfully, defensively we were able to get some things done and we kept them off the glass enough. And then eventually, just about in the nick of time, we were able to get a couple of shots to go down.”
Why Bet On Illinois?Illinois lost to Penn State 71-67 on Saturday after nearly rallying from a 22-point hole. It was still a fifth straight loss on the road in Big Ten play for Illinois (13-9, 3-6 Big Ten) and a stumble right back off that ladder the Illini were climbing after securing a home win Wednesday against Iowa. And it was another step away from their diminishing chances of an NCAA tournament bid with nine regular-season games remaining — not to mention a reset for an Illinois team without consecutive regular-season Big Ten wins since the tail end of the 2014-15 season.
Allowing the Nittany Lions to shoot 49.1 percent for the game followed Illinois’ trend on the road in Big Ten play this season. Maryland shot 55.9 percent in its 25-point win, Indiana shot 59.2 percent in winning by 16, Purdue was the highest at 60.4 percent in a 23-point victory and Michigan shot 45.1 percent and dealt with a late Illini rally in a nine-point win.
“You’ve got to do it for a longer period of time,” Coach John Groce said. “Our sustainability with that has got to be better.” Malcolm Hill led Illinois with 19 points, six rebounds and seven assists, while Jalen Coleman-Lands added 13 points for the Orange and Blue.
Hill is only four rebounds away from becoming just the fifth Illini player in school history – and the ninth active Div. I player – in the career 1,600-point/600- rebound club. Senior Maverick Morgan has scored in double figures in nine of the last 11 games, averaging 12.9 points on 60.9 percent shooting over this stretch. Morgan is Illinois’ second-leading scorer during Big Ten play, averaging 12.3 points on 58.5 percent shooting. Illinois ranks fifth in the Big Ten in scoring offense, averaging 75.9 ppg. The Illini have scored at least 75 points in 12 of their 13 wins.
This is the only scheduled meeting between the teams this season. The Illini were 0-2 vs. Wisconsin last year.