Illinois center Kofi Cockburn (21) and Northwestern forward Robbie Beran reach for a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
- #12 Illinois (9-3) plays host to Maryland (6-6) on Sunday, Jan. 10, at 8pm ET
- The over has hit in 16 of the 24 games these teams have played this season
- The odds for the game, as well as matchup analysis and a pick, can be found in the article below
The Maryland Terrapins have one great win and a bunch of great losses — but you can’t build an NCAA tournament resume that way. Eventually, even in a tough conference like the Big Ten, you have to start picking up some victories.
Maryland has a chance to do that on Sunday, Jan. 10 at 8pm ET when they head to Illinois to play one of the country’s top teams. The Fighting Illini have some quality losses, too, but a far deeper collection of wins.
Maryland vs Illinois Odds
|Maryland||+10.5 (-105)||+530||Over 146.5 (-114)|
|Illinois||-10.5 (-115)||-770||Under 146.5 (-106)|
Odds from FanDuel on Jan. 9
How They’ve Fared So Far
Illinois has three losses, all of which came against top-50 team’s according to KenPom’s rankings — two of which came by three points apiece. Their worst performance was arguably against Ohio (124th in KenPom), a 77-75 home win that was saved only by a shot in the final seconds.
Much has changed since then, though, and the Fighting Illini are now on a four-game winning streak. Their defense is great (18th in NCAA Division I in adjusted efficiency), but their offense is even better (sixth in adjusted efficiency). That includes the fifth-best 3-pt. shooting in the nation at 41.7%.
Maryland has a strong offense, too (19th in adjusted efficiency), but lacks on the defensive end. The Terrapins are allowing a 51.1 adjusted field goal percentage to opponents (218th in NCAA D-I), which partially explains why they’ve lost three in a row and four of five.
At their best, the Terrapins defeated #8 Wisconsin, 70-64, on the road. But that’s their only win against a top-50 KenPom team, while they have six losses against teams in that group.
Maryland’s three-game straight up losing streak exists against the spread, too. And all three of those losses came as underdogs.
The Terrapins are 5-7 ATS overall, but 2-1 on the road during Big Ten play. The over has hit in five of their past six games.
Illinois is on a four-game unbeaten streak ATS (3-0-1), and is 7-4-1 ATS overall. The Fighting Illini are 2-0-1 at home in Big Ten play and have not suffered an ATS loss of more than six points since Dec. 2. They are 6-3-1 as favorites this season.
Oh, and the over has hit in eight of Illinois’s 12 games, but the past three games have gone under.
In the past three seasons, Illinois and Maryland have faced each other four times. Oddly enough, the underdog covered each time (Illinois three times, Maryland once), and Maryland has won three of four straight up.
But while Maryland has seen two of last year’s key contributors depart, Illinois brought back its entire starting lineup.
Kofi Cockburn is averaging 20.0 points and 11.3 rebounds in Big Ten play while shooting 70.8%.
— Illini Stats & Notes (@IlliniStats) January 8, 2021
That includes center Kofi Cockburn, who has taken huge strides as a sophomore and is averaging a double-double (17.0 points, 10.1 rebounds per game) through 12 starts. For how strong Illinois is as a 3-point shooting outfit, Cockburn provides balance with a fierce inside game.
Roll with Illinois on the spread, and consider taking the over in this one, too.
Pick: Illinois -10.5 (-115); Over 146.5 (-114)
Jordan Horrobin is a sports journalist whose MLB, NHL, NFL and NCAA work has appeared in outlets such as The Athletic, MLB.com, the Detroit Free Press and more. He is currently based in Toronto, also working as a contributor for Forbes.com and a freelance editor for Sportsnet.