Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:47 AM

Illinois vs. Northwestern Predictions, Odds

  • January 7, 2020
  • By Thom Cunningham

The Illinois Fighting Illini take on the Northwestern Wildcats in a pivotal Big Ten Conference game. The action is set to begin at 9:00 p.m. (ET) and air on the Big Ten Network.



Illinois-Northwestern Betting Odds

  • Spread: Illinois -6
  • Money-Line: Illinois -360 Northwestern +270
  • Total: 149.5

Odds Subject to Change

Illinois enters this road game as the -6-point favorite, as Northwestern is beginning to lose some of the early-season momentum it had. Illinois has covered the spread in only six of 11 games this season, while Northwestern has covered five of its last eight games this season.

The point total is set at 149.5, which both schools tend to go OVER on. Illinois has gone OVER the point total in eight of its last 11 games, while Northwestern has gone OVER the point total in five of its last eight games played this season.


Betting Analysis – Illinois Fighting Illini

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 8-3
  • ATS: 6-4-1
  • SU - Home:6-0
  • SU - Away: 2-3
  • O/U: 8-3

Illinois is one of the more dangerous teams in the entire country, despite a road record currently under .500. The Fighting Illini have lost road games to Baylor, Missouri and Rutgers - although they did beat Duke in Cameron Indoor. The road struggles for Illinois are hit and miss, winning its last road games against Penn State.

Still, Illinois has won five of its last seven games - and Kofi Cockburn is beginning to play consistently terrific ball in the paint. Cockburn probably has the best long shot odds (as of today) to win the Wooden Award, although he won't because he's not even the best player on his team. That accolade goes to Ayo Dosunmu, who averages 23 points, seven boards and five assists per game.

Still, Cockburn is playing like a Wooden Award candidate with back-to-back double-doubles. He has scored 14 points or more in six straight games, which includes 33 points against Minnesota and 23 against Penn State. If Cockburn can continue to list great numbers in the paint, Illinois is going to be hard to stop for anyone.

Can Illinois win on the road though, even if Cockburn plays well like he did against Rutgers. Well, Myles Johnson won't be defending him - one of the best centers in all the nation for Rutgers. Also, Illinois has a top 20 offensive in national efficiency. If Andre Curbelo can continue to hit timely shots, while facilitating (4.5 assists per game) to good performances out of Dosunmu and Cockburn - there's no reason Illinois should lose this game SU.

Betting Analysis – Northwestern Wilcats

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 6-3
  • ATS: 5-3
  • SU - Home: 5-1
  • SU - Away: 1-2
  • O/U: 5-3

Can Northwestern win this home game? Yes, but the Wildcats are on a current two-game losing streak. Northwestern saw impressive wins over Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana. However, the Wildcats were left in the dust by Iowa before being trampled by Michigan.

What gives Northwestern a chance to win this game is the simple fact that they are playing at home. Northwestern is 5-1 SU at home this season, with its only loss coming early in the season to Pittsburgh. Northwestern has looked like a much better team since, but its hard to ignore the two-game skid on the road.

Miller Kopp needs to take games over much better, while Peter Nance needs to continue being a consistently productive player. Nance will have his work cut out for him, probably being the one to match with Cockburn. If not Nance, then Ryan Young will be asked to hold down the paint.

If Northwestern can't rebound with Cockburn down low, they will probably lose. What if Cockburn does dominate with neither Nance nor Young being able to stop him. Northwestern needs two things (one or both) to happen to win. One, Donsunmu has an awful offensive performance (don't count on). The second is to shoot lights out from three-point range - which Northwestern can do.

The Wildcats average the 11th-best three-point shot in the entire country (41%), average the 37th-most three-pointer made per game (9.6) and average the 15th-most assists per game (18.7). If Northwestern can move the ball and hit the open three-point shot, a lot, then they can win this game assuming Cockburn destroys the Wildcats' big men.

Inside the Stats – Illinois Fighting Illini

  • PS/G: 85.4 (21st)
  • PA/G: 69 (159th)
  • Off Rtg: 116.1 (18th)
  • Def Rtg: 93.8 (104th)

Inside the Stats – Northwestern Wildcats

  • PS/G: 81.7 (40th)
  • PA/G: 67.6 (122nd)
  • Off Rtg: 113.8 (29th)
  • Def Rtg: 94.1 (112th)

Key Players to Watch

  • ILL - Ayo Dosunmu (23 PPG, 7 RPG, 5 APG)
  • ILL - Kofi Cockburn (16.9 PPG, 9.9 RPG)
  • NW - Miller Kopp (14.4 PPG)
  • NW - Pete Nance (11.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG)

Illinois-Northwestern Predictions

It's very difficult to take either team in this game, as Illinois has road struggles against good teams while Northwestern is struggling themselves. Northwestern at home worries me a bit in taking Illinois to cover, although Illinois is the better roster.

With the game being such a toss up, it's recommended to live bet a winner. Northwestern's offense at home is too scary, while Illinois is hard to bet against with the talent between Dosunmu, Cockburn and Curbello. With high-powered offenses and a combined 13-6 O/U between the two schools, the point total going OVER seems to be the safest bet while also playing the odds correctly.

  • Score Prediction: Illinois 78 Northwestern 74
  • Best Bets: OVER

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