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Illinois Fighting Illini at Northwestern Wildcats Betting Preview

NCAA Basketball Previews

In-state Big Ten Conference rivals will square off on Thursday night in what is an important league game. The 6-3 Northwestern Wildcats host the 8-3 Illinois Fighting Illini, and bragging rights will be on the line.

Illinois has now won three straight games, and it sits in second place in the Big Ten Conference with a 4-1 record. The Fighting Illini are Final Four contenders this season, but winning games in the Big Ten Conference is never easy for any ranked team. 

Northwestern got off to a 3-0 start in league play, but it has since dropped two straight games. The Wildcats were not expected to compete for a league title, but a win in this game would make a huge statement. 

The Illinois Fighting Illini are seven-point road favorites over the Northwestern Wildcats on Thursday night in this huge rivalry game. 

Fighting Illini Can Score

The Big Ten Conference is traditionally known for having strong defensive teams, but the Fighting Illini win games with their offense. Illinois enters play on Thursday night averaging 85 points per game, and it can score in a hurry.

Guard Ayo Dosunmu leads the team with 23.0 points and five assists per game, and he is one of the best players in the country. Center Kofi Cockburn has chipped in with 17 points per game, but this team has several other weapons. 

On defense, Illinois is allowing nearly 70 points per game, but it is not easy to score on inside. With Cockburn and others protecting the paint, the Wildcats will have to make some shots to pull off this upset. 

Defense an Issue For Wildcats

The Wildcats will need to find some defense if they are going to turn things back around. Northwestern has allowed at least 85 points in each of its last two games, and that’s not going to work against an explosive offensive team. 

Northwestern is scoring nearly 82 points per game, but the offense has struggled a bit in Big Ten Conference action. The Wildcats are shooting better than 41 percent from deep, and they must shoot it well on Thursday night.

Miller Kopp leads the team with 14.4 points per game, but the Wildcats have five players scoring at least nine points per game. Northwestern can’t run with Illinois, but this team has plenty of capable scorers in the halfcourt setting.

Wildcats Win at Home

Life in the Big Ten is difficult for every team, especially when playing on the road. Illinois has already lost a road game in league play, and this will be another difficult test.

Northwestern has struggled in each of its last two games, but this feels like the perfect time for it to turn things back around. The Wildcats will be ready to take on their in-state rival, and they will pick up a nice upset win over the Fighting Illini.

Bet the Northwestern Wildcats to upset the Illinois Fighting Illini on Thursday night. 

For more Dunkel Index college basketball picks, check out our college basketball picks page.

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