The Illinois Fighting Illini face a daunting task – and they'll tackle it without one of the top players in the country.
The No. 5 Illini tangle with No. 23 Wisconsin in a pivotal Big Ten Conference matchup for both teams. Illinois’ attempted series sweep just became a whole lot tougher following word that standout guard Ayo Dosunmu is out indefinitely. His absence has had a significant impact on the line, with Wisconsin going from -1 all the way to -5 in most spots.
These are our favorite NBA free picks and predictions for Illinois vs. Wisconsin on February 27.
Illinois Fighting Illini at Wisconsin Badgers betting preview
Illinois: G Ayo Dosunmu (Out), F Zach Griffith (Out), G Edgar Padilla Jr. (Out)
Wisconsin: F Ben Carlson (Out), G Trevor Anderson (Questionable)
Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Illini are 4-13 ATS in their last 17 games against Wisconsin. Find more NCAA betting trends for Illinois vs. Wisconsin.
NCAAB sharp money and line movement reportBy Patrick Everson
Wisconsin hit FanDuel's odds board Friday evening as a 3-point home favorite and is up to -5 at noon ET, a couple of hours before tipoff. However, the betting splits tell a different tale, with Illinois attracting 78 percent of tickets and 66 percent of money on the spread. The total opened at 136.5 and made a couple trips to 135.5, where the number sits at noon ET, with 68 percent of bets/58 percent of money on the Over.Check out the full line movement for this game
Against the spread (ATS) pick
How bad is the timing of the Dosunmu injury? Look no further than the schedule Illinois has to close out the Big Ten regular season: at Wisconsin, at No. 3 Michigan, and at No. 4 Ohio State. And while the Illini had little trouble handling Wisconsin in a 75-60 victory back on Feb. 6, that was largely due to the heroics of Dosunmu, who had 21 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists.
Who steps up in his absence? The obvious answer is Kofi Cockburn, who had 23 points and 14 boards in the first meeting while shooting 10-of-13 from the floor. But can he honestly be that much better in Saturday's rematch? Probably not. And the drop in talent from these two to the rest of the Illini roster is alarming, with the duo responsible for 47.8 percent of the team scoring.
Expecting a 20+-point turnaround from the first meeting to Saturday's encounter might seem extreme, but that's the kind of impact Dosunmu has on the Illini attack. His absence leaves a crater in the Illinois roster that it won't be able to overcome.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin -5 (-110)
At first glance, we saw a surprisingly potent offensive performance from the Illini in their first game without Dosunmu, as they blasted Nebraska 86-70. But let's be honest: The Cornhuskers and their 1-14 Big Ten record are next-level terrible. And Illinois was fortunate to put up that many points after shooting a dreadful 17.4 percent from 3-point territory.
Wisconsin boasts one of the premier defenses in the nation, ranked 22nd in Division I in points allowed (62.7). And we have a hard time seeing how Illinois is going to replace Dosunmu's scoring in this one. His absence also impacts Cockburn negatively, since the Badgers can pour more of their defensive resources into slowing down the talented forward.
Wisconsin games average 132.5 total points so far this season – and this feels like the right range for Saturday's game. That makes the Under the superior play.
PREDICTION: Under 135.5 (-110)
Illinois vs Wisconsin betting card
- Wisconsin -5 (-110)
- Under 135.5 (-110)
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