Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#737 Northwestern 130.5 vs.
#738 Illinois -12
Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 5:00pm EST
Written by David Hess



#737 Northwestern University
#738 University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign


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College Basketball action on Saturday evening and a pair of teams from the Big 10 Conference will square off as the Northwestern Wildcats grapple with the Illinois Fighting Illini at State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois. The Illini took two of the three meetings between these teams last year. Illinois enters this game at 12-5 overall, including 4-2 within the Big 10 while the Wildcats are 1-5 in league play and 6-10 overall.

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Back To Losing For The Cats

The Northwestern Wildcats are off to a rough 6-10 start to the year overall while going just 1-5 in league play. Not the start that Northwestern was hoping for. They recently won a home game against Nebraska by a score of 62-57 and that broke a five-game losing streak that the Cats were on. Well, it's back to losing as Northwestern enters this game off a 75-62 home loss to Iowa. It will be a long year for the Wildcats in the Big 10, especially if they can't get their offense going. Northwestern has averaged just 61.7 ppg in their six league games thus far and that could be a problem here as the Illini have scored plenty of points this year. Can the Northwestern score enough to win this one? We shall see.

The offense struggled to generate many points against a less than stellar Iowa defense in their last game as the Cats put up just 62 points on 36% shooting from the field overall, including 29% shooting from long range. Northwestern has not been a good shooting team overall and they have averaged just 66.5 ppg so far, which is 299th in the nation. Leading their attack was Miller Kopp, who had 15 points while Pete Nance had 11 points and 10 boards. The defense is what will have to lead them and they have allowed just 66.3 ppg so far, which is 106th in the land while also allowing just 68.3 ppg in league play. The Hawkeyes shot 47% from the field overall, including 45% from long range and they committed just seven turnovers. Their defense will have to play far better in this one. Northwestern is ranked 110th by KenPom and they have faced the 35th ranked schedule.

The Illini Are Playing Tough Defense

This could be a nice game for the Illinois Fighting Illini as their defense has been off the charts of late and they are facing a struggling offensive team. Illinois is off a hard-fought 54-51 home win over Rutgers and they have now allowed just 59.2 ppg in league play so far, in including just 52.7 ppg in their last three. The Illini will look for another strong defensive effort as they are facing a Northwestern team that has averaged just 61.7 ppg in league play so far. The Illini come in at 4-2 within the Big 10 and 12-5 overall. Illinois has faced the 41st ranked schedule in the nation and KenPom has them ranked 30th. Illinois has missed the NCAA Tournament in each of the last six years. Could this be the year they end their drought? We shall see.

The offense did not play all that well against the Scarlet Knights as the Illini shot just 29% from the field overall and were just two of 14 from downtown. Not good numbers at all and they will be facing a pretty good northwestern defense in this one. Leading the way for Illinois was Ayo Dosunmu, who had 18 points while Kofi Cockburn had 11 points and 17 boards. The defense did play well as Rutgers shot just 34% from the field overall, including 35% from long range. The big difference in the game was that Illinois outscored Rutgers 16-3 at the charity stripe. Illinois comes in ranked 83rd in the nation in scoring at 75.9 ppg and 73rd in points allowed at 64.4 ppg.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

Insiders Status:


I will take the Illini in this one and a big reason is their defense against the offense of the Wildcats. The Wildcats are just 1-5 in league play thus far and they have averaged just 61.7 ppg in those games. that will not get it done against an Illinois team that has allowed just 59.2 ppg in league play thus far. Northwestern is a bad team and they have gone just 1-4 on the road while averaging just 66.8 ppg in those games. the Illini have gone 10-1 here at home of the year and they have outscored those foes 81.5 to 60.5 ppg in those games. The Wildcats will not score nearly enough to keep this one close. Take the Illini to win by at least 15.

Prediction: Illinois -11.5

Full-Game Total Pick

Insiders Status:


I have to go with the Under here as I just do not feel that the Wildcats will score enough points to keep this one close. Northwestern plays at the 237th ranked pace in the nation while the Illini are at 223rd. This will not be a high tempo game by any stretch. The Wildcats have averaged just 61.7 ppg in league play while the Illini have allowed 59.2 ppg in their league games. Illinois has averaged 81.5 ppg at home overall but just 62.7 ppg in their three league games and the Wildcats have allowed 69.6 ppg on the road. This game will feature plenty of defense and the Illini will be doing the bulk of the scoring in the contest. The Under is 13-5-1 in Northwestern's last 19 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600 and 7-2 in Illinois' last nine overall

Prediction: Under 133.5

Written By David Hess

David has always had a fascination with numbers and sports, so he combined the two to become a handicapper and a writer for us here at Winners & Whiners, along with StatSalt. All the information that David puts in his articles are well-researched and his predictions are well-thought out. He is a big fan of all the major pro sports and the colleges making David a very versatile and a constantly winning handicapper. David has been writing for the past 10 years and has been handicapping for over 20 years. He will help you beat the Man, so be sure and follow along.