Illinois vs Maryland Picks and Predictions: Illini Bring the Fight to Terrapins

Illinois has corrected an early-season error and has been rolling since, which is bad news for a Maryland team hosting the Fighting Illini on Friday. Our college basketball betting picks highlight why the Terrapins will have trouble vs. Illinois.

Last Updated: Jan 21, 2022 3:20 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Alfonso Plummer Illinois Fighting Illini college basketball
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The No. 17 Illinois Fighting Illini will look to bounce back from Monday's heartbreaking double-overtime loss to No. 4 Purdue when they travel to face the Maryland Terrapins. Both teams have been ravaged by injuries and can make for tough handicaps. The Illini, winners of six of their last seven amidst a starting lineup change, are looking to keep the train on the tracks while the Terrapins are looking to find their footing and improve their 1-6 start to conference play.

Continue reading for our free college basketball picks and predictions for Illinois vs. Maryland on Friday, January 21st for more.

Illinois vs Maryland odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

The spread opened with Illinois as seven-point favorites, but it has since moved all the way down to -4.5. Similarly, the total opened at 141.5 but has since moved to 137.5.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until tip-off and be sure to check out the full college basketball odds before placing your bets.

Illinois vs Maryland predictions

Predictions made on 1/21/2022 at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Illinois vs Maryland game info

Location: Xfinity Center, College Park, MD
Date: Friday, January 21, 2022
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1

Illinois at Maryland betting preview

Injuries

Illinois: No injuries to report.
Maryland: No injuries to report.

Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.

Betting trend to know

Illinois is 5-2 against the spread since replacing Coleman Hawkins in the starting lineup with Jacob Grandison. Find more NCAA betting trends for Illinois vs. Maryland.

Illinois vs Maryland picks and predictions

Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.

The Fighting Illini have struggled with injuries more than any other Top 100 team, missing more games from their top eight scorers than any other team (24 games missed). Those injuries have given head coach Brad Underwood a difficult time managing rotations, and the Fighting Illini have gone through some growing pains along the way as a result.

Most notably, it has taken Underwood a while to pivot from having Jacob Grandinson (11.4 PPG) coming off the bench while having Coleman Hawkins (6.8 PPG) start. Grandinson possesses a 48%/47%/86% shooting split, yet during the six-game stretch from November 23rd to December 11th, Underwood had Hawkins starting and Grandinson coming off the pine. Here is how those two fared in those six games:

Game Hawkins Grandison
Kansas State 25 MP, 6 PTS, 2/5 FG 18 MP, 8 PTS, 3/4 FG
Notre Dame 15 MP, 4 PTS, 2/3 FG 18 MP, 9 PTS, 3/4 FG
Rutgers 28 MP, 9 PTS, 4/8 FG 18 MP, 16 PTS, 7/11 FG
Iowa 24 MP, 7 PTS, 2/8 FG 30 MP, 21 PTS, 6/14 FG
Arizona 12 MP, 0 PTS, 0/3 FG 31 MP, 14 PTS, 5/13 FG
Average 20.8 MP, 5.2 PTS, 37% FG 23 MP, 13.6 PTS, 52% FG

The Arizona game on December 11th was the straw that broke the camel's back. With 17:40 remaining in the second half in a tie game, Hawkins is subbed out and Grandinson enters the game. In just one minute, the Fighting Illini go up four. Underwood then subs Hawkins back in and leaves him in for over four minutes.

On offense, 6-foot-10, 200-pound Hawkins is forced to play on the perimeter as a stretch four. Hawkins, a non-threat from the perimeter (shooting 40% of his shots there at a 28% clip), provides little value and the offense often stalls out. On defense, Hawkins lacks the size and speed to keep up with his man.

At a pivotal point in the game (Arizona having just taken the lead off of a 7-0 run) Hawkins coughs up the ball at the top of the perimeter. Despite being hip to hip with the player recovering the loose ball and teammate Trent Frazier contesting the loose ball and slowing down the recovery, Hawkins immediately gives up on the play. Arizona collects the ball and goes up 54-50.

Illinois would finish that game with a -16 plus-minus with Hawkins on the court and +12 with him off the court, losing the game down the stretch by four. Since then, Grandinson has started while Hawkins has moved to the bench. Underwood has faced a lot of adversity due to injuries, but the Grandinson-Hawkins debacle is head-scratching.

According to EvanMiya.com, the exact lineup that Underwood has finally started using as the starting lineup in the last seven games (Cockburn/Frazier/Grandison/Plummer/ Williams) is the second-best five-man lineup in the nation (min. 180 possessions) in terms of net adjusted efficiency with a 49.4 margin. To compare, the same lineup with Hawkins instead of Grandison has a -6.3 margin. To make matters worse, Underwood has played that second-ranked Grandison lineup almost 100 minutes less than the average usage of the other top ten lineups in the nation (188 minutes vs 285 minutes).

In the seven games since that change to Grandison, Illinois has won every contest except for a double-overtime heartbreaker against No. 4 Purdue. It’s also 5-2 against the spread during that time, compared to the 4-6 record in its ten games prior.

With Underwood amending his mistakes and Illinois elevating its level of play, back the Illini.

Prediction: Illinois -4.5 (-108)

Since this pivotal change, Illinois has allowed just 60.1 points per game in regulation compared to the 73.0 points it allowed in the preceding six-game stretch when Hawkins was starting and Grandison was coming off the bench. Although that may scare most off of a bet on the Over, there's more to it than that.

The previously massive gap in adjusted efficiency margins is more so driven by offense. The Grandison lineup has an offensive efficiency rating of 136.8 compared to the 87.0 of the Hawkins lineup. And despite this entire deconstruction of Hawkins' play, he isn't a bad player by any means - he is just of a certain build and style of play. It isn't that it should be 100% Grandison and 0% Hawkins all the time. In fact, a lineup of Grandison/Hawkin /Cockburn/Frazier/Plummer has an even higher offensive rating than the previously applauded lineup (140.9 vs 136.8).

This all comes without mentioning Maryland, which have dealt with their fair share of injuries. It ranks eighth in number of games amongst Top 100 teams missed by Top 8 scorers, and with the Terrapins healthy as of late, they've gone 6-3 to the Over in their last nine compared to the 2-7 record to start the season.

These are two teams that the market is seemingly behind on when it comes to the injuries they've faced and how they drastically alter their performance.

Prediction: Over 137.5 (-110)

The Terrapins, despite their injuries, are just largely too inefficient to keep up with this iteration of the Fighting Illini. Their trio of scorers, Eric Avala (16.3 PPG), Fatts Russell (12.4 PPG), and Donta Scott (12.3 PPG), are particularly inefficient from the perimeter. The three lead the team in the 3-point attempts, but shoot just 32.8% from there. They are a large reason why the Terrapins rank 288th in 3-point percentage

That doesn't bode well against a team that (despite all of their injuries and lineup issues) ranks 12th in KenPom adjusted efficiency, including a No. 11 rank in offense and No. 20 rank on defense.

The Illini will bring the fight on Friday night.

Pick: Illinois -4.5 (-108)

College basketball parlays

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