Last Updated Dec 22, 2021, 10:37 AM

Rutgers Scarlet Knight vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Picks, Predictions, Odds

Dec. 3, 2021
Dave Schwab
VI Betting Expert

Early betting action in the Big Ten this Friday night features the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on the road against the Illinois Fighting Illini. Game time from State Farm Center in Champaign is set for 7 p.m. ET with ESPN2 covering the national broadcast.

Score Prediction

Illinois 76, Rutgers 65

Best Bets

Illinois -7.5 (-110) at DraftKings

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Predictions

Rutgers kicks off its conference schedule with a mixed record at 4-3 straight-up in early nonconference play. The main cause for concern betting the Scarlet Knights in this matchup is a trio of losses closing as favorites. This includes a troubling 53-51 loss to Lafayette on Nov. 22 favored by 19.5 points.

The Fighting Illini have played closer to expectations at 5-2 SU through their first seven games. However, they closed as solid favorites in each of those losses to Marquette and Cincinnati. Illinois has played much closer to form in its last three games to bring some momentum into the team’s Big Ten opener.

Illinois has the SU edge in recent meetings while Rutgers has done a good job at covering against the spread. My lean in this matchup goes towards the Fighting Illini as the better overall team playing at home. Both sides are looking to start their Big Ten season on a winning note, but the best betting value in Friday night’s opener goes to Illinois both SU and ATS.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Odds

  • Illinois -7.5 (-110)
  • Illinois +7.5 (-110)
  • Over 133.5 (-110)
  • Under 133.5 (-110)

More Odds | Futures Odds

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Resources

  • Matchup: Big 10
  • Date: Friday, December 3, 2021
  • Venue: State Farm Center
  • Location: Champaign, Illinois
  • TV-Time: ESPN2 - 7:00 p.m. ET

Rutgers Scarlet Knights Betting Analysis

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

  • SU: 4-3
  • ATS: 1-6
  • O/U: 5-2

Along with the loss to Lafayette, Rutgers came up short as the favorite against DePaul and UMass. The lone bright spot to close out November was Tuesday night’s 74-64 victory against Clemson as a slight 1.5-point favorite in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup.

Forward Ron Harper Jr. is Rutgers’ premier player with a team-high 16.1 points and 9.0 rebounds a game. He is shooting 42.7% from the field and 35.9% from three-point range. The other two players scoring in double figures are center Cliff Omoruyi (12.0 points) and guard Geo Baker (11.2 points). Baker has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury.

If Baker cannot go on Friday night, that will put some added strain on the Scarlet Knights. They are only averaging 67.7 points a game to begin with. Rutgers is allowing an average of 63.0 points per game on the other end of the court.

The team is shooting 40.7% from the field and just 26% from beyond the three-point line. Add in its 66.7% conversion rate from the free throw line and Rutgers could struggle to keep things close against Illinois from the opening tip.

Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Analysis

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

  • SU: 5-2
  • ATS: 2-5
  • O/U: 4-3

Illinois has been a tough team to bet on this season at just 2-5 ATS, but I still like the overall edge it brings to the table against Rutgers. The Fighting Illini have the clear advantage in scoring with 75.4 PPG and their defense has held opposing teams to 65.6 points a game.

Team depth in scoring is another plus with five different players averaging at least nine points on the season. Center Kofi Cockburn has been the leading scorer with 26.8 points while pulling down an average of 9.5 rebounds a game.

Guard Alfonso Plummer is next on the list with 13.9 points followed by guard Jacob Grandison (10.5 points) as the team’s best shooter. He has gone 56.4% from the field and 52.9% from three-point range. Plummer just put up 21 points in the victory over Notre Dame.

The Fighting Illini, as a whole, have shot 45.5% from the field and 34.8% from three-point range. They are pulling down an average of 41.9 rebounds a game with 13.9 a game on the offense end of the court.

Inside the Stats - Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Record: 4-3
  • VI Ranking: 176
  • PS/G: 67.7 (263rd)
  • PA/G: 63 (77th)
  • ORtg: 100 (225th)
  • DRtg: 93 (119th)

Inside the Stats - Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Record: 5-2
  • VI Ranking: 50
  • PS/G: 75.4 (128th)
  • PA/G: 65.6 (120th)
  • ORtg: 107.3 (107th)
  • DRtg: 93.3 (124th)

Key Players to Watch

  • RUTG: Ron Harper, Jr. - G (16.1 ppg, 9 rpg)
  • RUTG: Clifford Omoruyi - C (12 ppg, 7.9 rpg)
  • ILL: Kofi Cockburn - C (26.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg)
  • ILL: Alfonso Plummer - G (13.9 ppg)

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Conclusion

The gap in overall talent aside, Illinois has always been a tough out playing at home. Over their last 20 games played at home, the Fighting Illini have won 18 of those outings SU. The record drops off to just 11-9 ATS overall, but they have covered in six of their last nine home games closing as favorites.

Rutgers’ spotty play this season is the bigger concern for covering as a road underdog. The Scarlet Knights have lost 15 of their last 20 road games SU closing as underdogs. They are 2-3 ATS in the last five.

Head-to-head, Illinois has won five of the last seven meetings SU. Rutgers is 4-3 ATS during that same run. The heavy lean on the total goes towards the OVER. The total has gone OVER in six of those seven games.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Trends

  • Rutgers has failed to cover the spread in six of its last seven games.
  • Illinois has failed to cover the spread in five of its last seven games.
  • Rutgers has gone OVER the point total in five of its last seven games.

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