Illinois vs. Rutgers Basketball Spread & O/U Odds and Picks

Eddie Griffin

As we head into a frenetic final stretch of the college basketball regular season, there is much to be decided among the Big Ten’s pack of potential NCAA Tournament teams. Tonight, two of those teams tackle at the RAC, as rising Rutgers hosts first-place Illinois.

Entering tonight’s visit to Piscataway, Illinois holds a half-game edge over Wisconsin and Purdue, with Ohio State, Michigan State, and Rutgers also within at least two games of first. The Illini have an important trip to East Lansing on Saturday, but before they think about Michigan State, they have to face perhaps an equally dangerous road trip.

Rutgers is one of the hottest teams in the country at the moment, coming into tonight’s matchup with the Illini with consecutive wins over Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Can they take down another top-20 team to enhance their March Madness resume tonight?

Illinois vs. Rutgers College Basketball Matchup Information and Betting Odds

Matchup Information

  • Game Matchup: #12 Illinois Fighting Illini (18-6, 11-3 Big Ten, 1st in Big Ten) vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (15-9, 9-5 Big Ten, t-5th in Big Ten)
  • Venue & Location: Jersey Mike’s Arena (Piscataway, New Jersey)
  • Date: Wednesday, February 16, 2022
  • Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
  • TV: BTN (Big Ten Network)

Betting Odds

  • Spread: Illinois -3.5 (-110), Rutgers +3.5 (-110)
  • Total: OVER 135.5 (-110), UNDER 135.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Illinois -165, Rutgers +140

Odds are via BetMGM.

Can Rutgers Move Themselves Off of the March Madness Bubble?

Illinois Rutgers Rutgers Wisconsin Geo Baker

You would think that a team with 15 wins, a 9-5 Big Ten record, and wins over Purdue, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin (at Wisconsin, at that) would be firmly in the March Madness field. Right?

But if you look at the latest bracketology at the likes of ESPN and CBS Sports, you won’t find Rutgers in the field. You won’t even find the Scarlet Knights in the first four out.

Despite all of the sparkling parts of their resume, Rutgers comes in at 81 in the NET. And they are on the wrong side of the bubble ahead of their final six regular season games.

That is because the Scarlet Knights are still being haunted by losing three straight non-conference games to DePaul, Lafayette, and UMass by a combined seven points in November. In the losses to Lafayette and UMass, they scored late go-ahead baskets, only to be beaten by a last-second shot. Additionally, they have lost to Minnesota and Maryland, two of the Big Ten’s worst teams.

But as they prepare to welcome Illinois to town, hope is very much alive for Rutgers, thanks a collection of four of the best wins in the business. In addition to their three recent wins, they stunned then #1 Purdue at the RAC in December.

March Madness Resume for Rutgers

The Good

  • Winning record in one of the top conferences in college basketball
  • Wins over #5 Purdue (#1 at the time), #19 Michigan State (#13 at the time), #18 Ohio State (#16 at the time), and at #15 Wisconsin (#14 at the time)

The Bad

  • 81 NET

The Ugly

  • Five losses to teams currently at 100 or worse in the NET (at #104 DePaul, vs. #315 Lafayette, at #173 UMass, at #103 Minnesota, vs. #100 Maryland)

A win over Illinois will only do so much to help their hopes, with their following four games against Purdue (away), Michigan (away), Wisconsin (home), and Indiana (away).

But on their current form, they can play with and beat the Illini. And there are two keys to maximizing their chances to do so. On the season, the Scarlet Knights are shooting only 43.8 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from three. But in their past three games, they have made 55.4 percent (82 of 148) of their shots from the field, including 44.7 percent (21 of 47) from three.

The other key is on the defensive end. Of their nine losses, they have allowed at least 66+ points in all but one, their 53-51 loss to Lafayette. In all five conference losses, they have surrendered at least 66 points.

But in their nine Big Ten wins, Purdue (68) and Michigan (67), who accounted for their first two conference wins, are the only two opponents to reach 66+ points.

Illinois vs. Rutgers Prediction & Picks

Illinois 67, Rutgers 62 (Illinois -3.5 & UNDER 135.5)

Rutgers has been on an extremely impressive run, and they will be in with a chance to make it four straight top-20 wins tonight.

But just as strong defensive play is a big part of what helps the Scarlet Knights be at their best, the same thing can be said for Illinois. When Wooden Award candidate Kofi Cockburn has been on the floor in Big Ten play, eight of 12 opponents have been held to 67 or fewer points.

Illinois Kofi Cockburn

When these two teams met in Champaign on December 3, the Illini rolled to an 86-51 win. Tonight’s matchup won’t be such a rout, not least because Rutgers is a much different team on their home court.

But they won’t have an answer for Cockburn or another strong defensive effort from the Illini. Look for Illinois to eke out the win and maintain first place in the Big Ten ahead of Saturday’s trip to Michigan State.

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