Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu (11) dribbles during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Indiana, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
- #19 Wisconsin (14-5, 8-4 Big Ten) battles #12 Illinois (12-5, 8-3 Big Ten) on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 2:30pm ET
- The Badgers and Fighting Illini are jockeying for position near the top of the Big Ten standings in their first of two meetings this season
- The odds for the game, as well as matchup analysis and a pick, can be found in the article below
A pivotal battle near the top of the Big Ten standings will take place on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 2:30 pm ET between #19 Wisconsin and #12 Illinois, the first of two meetings between these top-20 teams this season.
The Badgers have struggled to gain momentum lately, alternating wins and losses in their past five games. The Fighting Illini, meanwhile, have won three in a row and seven of nine.
So it’s no surprise Illinois is a 4.5-point home favorite.
#12 Illinois vs #19 Wisconsin Odds
|Illinois||-4.5 (-105)||-194||Over 136.5 (-110)|
|Wisconsin||+4.5 (-115)||+162||Under 136.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Feb. 5th at FanDuel.
How They’ve Fared Recently
In the past two weeks, Wisconsin has gone loss, win, loss, win. First, they fell to #7 Ohio State (the hottest team in the conference right now), then they beat Maryland, lost to Penn State and beat Penn State. Quite a ride.
The Penn State victory, which came by 16 points, was a nice bounce back after the Badgers fell to the Nittany Lions only three days prior, 81-71. In the 16-point win, Wisconsin played to its strength by shooting 9-of-18 from 3-pt. range. The Badgers are shooting 37.6 percent from deep this season (37th in NCAA Division I).
Wisconsin’s quintet of seniors have also led the Badgers to the fourth lowest turnover rate in the nation (13.8 percent). They just aren’t very good at generating turnovers on the defensive end (17.2 percent, 275th in D-I).
Illinois has also played Penn State recently, topping the Nittany Lions, 79-65, on Jan. 19. That sparked a three-game win streak, which also includes victories over #8 Iowa and Indiana.
Beat Wisconsin. pic.twitter.com/SuJpUq8BTk
— Illinois Basketball (@IlliniMBB) February 6, 2021
Like Wisconsin, Illinois is an exceptional deep shooting team (39.7 3-pt. shooting, 10th in D-I). The Fighting Illini are also just a genuinely strong offensive team (eighth in adjusted offensive efficiency, 13th in effective field goal shooting percentage).
Illinois is led by Naismith Player of the Year candidate Ayo Dosunmu, who is averaging 21.2 points, 4.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game. Shutting him down doesn’t happen often — he has posted double-digit points in all 17 games this year — but that’s what the Badgers will try to do.
2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Odds Tracker
Wisconsin is 9-9-1 against the spread, including 3-3 ATS on the road. The Badgers aren’t accustomed to being the underdogs, and they’re just 1-1 ATS this year in that role (both games set as 2.5-point underdogs).
Jonathan Davis entered Tuesday’s game with 4 made career 3-pointers
He made 4 that night alone!
🔥 Career high 17 points
🔥 6-7 FG, 4-4 3FG
🔥 4 rebounds
🔥 3 steals#OnWisconsin pic.twitter.com/VGeZrDXyjI
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) February 4, 2021
Illinois is 10-6-1 ATS, with five ATS wins in nine games at home. The Fighting Illini have covered in three straight games, though all of those ATS wins have come by margins of four points or fewer.
Both teams have seen the over hit more commonly than the under (20 of a combined 36 games), but neither team presents a compelling over/under trend in recent games.
In the previous two seasons, these teams have played three games against each other. Illinois has covered two of three ATS, while Wisconsin has won two of three straight up. The Badgers were favored in all three of those matchups, for what it’s worth.
In their lone matchup during the 2019-20 season, Illinois covered as 4.5-point underdogs with a 71-70 win. Both teams, amazingly, have returned all their starters from that game.
This should be a great game between two strong teams. The winner will be a bit of a toss up, but we like Illinois as the hotter team, playing at home, to take care of business.
Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini Moneyline (-194)
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.