Iowa Hawkeyes at Illinois Fighting Illini NCAAM Pick – March 8, 2020

I said in my pick yesterday, that I never like to predict that a team as talented as Seton Hall was going to get blown out, but that is what I thought was going to happen in their road game against Creighton. The Blue Jays have been blowing out everybody in Omaha this season and have been red-hot down the stretch.

So, while I am never a fan of laying more than a full possession’s worth of points in a game, I felt that Creighton would use a big second half to pull away from Seton Hall and win fairly easily and that the four-point number wasn’t going to be in play. So, I laid some wood and backed the home team.

The Blue Jays used a 30-10 run to close out the game in a big way, and coasted to a 77-60 victory, and we cashed yet another ticket. With the win, the Blue Jays took home a share of the Big East regular-season title, their first conference title since they have joined the league. Very few teams are playing as well as Creighton is right now, and the Blue jays are the favorites to win the Big East tournament as they hit postseason play as the top seed in the Big East.

For Seton Hall, the Pirates need to be a little concerned as they had back to back games where a win would have secured them the league title, and they lost both games. They now finish the regular season in third place in the Big East, after being prohibitive favorites to win it most of the year.

The Pirates have gone just 5-5 in their last ten games after winning sixteen of their first twenty, and they need to find a way to recapture that swagger that had them as a potential NCAA tournament one seed just a month ago. For today’s betting pick, we will head to the Big 10, where the Illinois Fighting Illini host the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Today’s Game

  • Iowa Hawkeyes (20-10) at Illinois Fighting Illini (20-10)
  • Assembly Hall, Champaign
  • 4:00 PM PST
  • TV: BTN

Seeding in the Big 10 tournament is on the line tonight as the Illinois Fighting Illini host the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Illini currently occupy the four seed in the league, and with a win would secure that seed in the season’s final regular season game.

For Iowa, they could slide up from where they stand now in sixth, all the way to fourth if they pick up a win and Ohio State losses against Michigan State. There is a lot on the line tonight in the final regular season game for both teams, and we have a great game in store for you tonight!

Spread:

  • Iowa +3.5 (-110)
  • Illinois -3.5 (-110)
Money line:

  • Iowa +145
  • Illinois -165
Total Points:

  • Over 137.5 (-105)
  • Under 137.5 (-115)

Iowa Hawkeyes

At home this season, the Iowa Hawkeyes are one of the best teams in the country. They have home floor wins over Penn State, Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Rutgers, Michigan, Maryland, and Minnesota. Even on a neutral floor, they have been great, as they have neutral site wins over Texas Tech and Cincinnati. But on the road? Yeah, not so much.

The Hawkeyes have road losses to Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, Maryland, Nebraska, Penn State, and Michigan. Only two of the Hawkeyes eight losses have come at home this season. And while nobody is going to fault the Hawkeyes too much for losing to teams like Michigan, Michigan State, and Maryland, the losses to Purdue, Indiana, and Nebraska all came to teams that won’t be dancing in March. The only true road wins the Hawkeyes have in league play this season came against Minnesota and Northwestern, two teams with a combined Big 10 league record of 10-29.

Illinois Fighting Illini

The Fighting Illini of Illinois have had a very similar season as Iowa as they are awful on the road and elite at home. At home this year, the Illini have wins over Indiana, Nebraska, Minnesota, Northwestern, Rutgers, Purdue, and Michigan. All told, the Illini are 14-3 at home. The Illini have a lot to play for tonight as they are currently in fourth place in the Big 10 standings.

And that is huge for the Big 10 tournament, as the top four seeds get a double bye straight to the quarterfinals. With so many games coming up between the Big 10 tournament and the NCAA tournament, getting that extra day off is going to be huge for this Illinois team, and they are going to be playing hard for the win tonight at home on senior night.

Who Do I Like?

If I had to give you one play that I have made more than any other this season, it would be backing home teams in the Big 10. The league has been home court dominated all season long and you just don’t want to find yourself in a spot where you are laying wood on the road in this league, or you are going to get burned. And while most of my success in betting home teams in the Big 10 has come by backing home underdogs, we don’t have that opportunity in this one tonight, so we will lay a little wood on Illinois.

The number does scare me just a little bit at three and a half points, as this game is very likely to be competitive. But when you look at how Iowa tends to play on the road, they do have the propensity to get blown out at times. The Hawkeyes lost to Indiana by twelve, Purdue by thirty-six, Maryland by ten, and Michigan by twelve. We need them to have another lackluster performance on the road tonight to cash our ticket.

The Bet

When these teams first met up at Carver-Hawkeye Arena earlier this year, the Illini took the lead into halftime on the road, before seeing Iowa take over in the second half and pull away for the win. Luka Garza dominated the matchup with Kofi Cockburn in a matchup of two of the best centers in the nation. But in that one, Cockburn got into foul trouble early and didn’t play a lot of minutes.

I see the big man getting his revenge tonight as he is likely to get some hometown calls that should help him stay on the floor. In that first game, the freshman sensation scored just six points, his lowest total of the season. Since then, he has scored double-digits in six out of his last seven games, with three double-doubles. While Garza is certainly the more skilled of the two seven footers, Cockburn is a force of nature and can dominate the action if he can stay out of foul trouble and on the court.

I think this one will remain close throughout, and we are going to be sweating that number down to the final few possessions. But home teams have just been too strong in the Big 10 not to want to back the Illini in this one. Give me the Illinois Fighting Illini tonight, laying -3.5-points, as they look to secure a top-four seed in the Big 10 tournament!

The Bet: Illinois Fighting Illini -3.5

My Pick
Illinois Fighting Illini -3.5
Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL