NCAA Basketball: Iowa/Illinois Preview, Odds and Prediction - 03/13/2021

by Big Al Staff

Two of the top-five teams in the nation battle in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament on CBS at 3 PM ET.

Iowa won their fourth straight game yesterday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament against Wisconsin, 62-57, as a 5-point favorite. The Hawkeyes eked out the win despite missing 18 of their 20 shots from 3-point land. Luka Garza led the team with 24 points. The senior All-American is scoring 23.8 points-per-game with 8.7 rebounds-per-game.

McCaffery returned all five starters while getting three additional players back from injury from the team that finished 20-11. The Hawkeyes, 21-7, are ranked 5th nationally by the Associated Press with eight wins in their last nine games. They have high-profile victories against Ohio State, Wisconsin (twice), Purdue, and North Carolina. Their seven losses are against Gonzaga, Minnesota, Indiana (twice), Illinois, Michigan (twice), and the Buckeyes. Iowa finished the regular season with a 14-6 mark in the regular season.

The Hawkeyes are the number two team in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They make 38.8% of their 3-point shots, ninth-best nationally, while posting an effective field goal percentage of 54.9%, 26th in the country. They lead the nation with a turnover rate of 13.3%. Iowa is 51st nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. Perimeter defense is an issue for McCaffrey as opponents are shooting 35.1% of their 3-point attempts. The Hawkeyes’ opponents rebound 28.8% of their missed shots, 209th nationally.

Illinois won their fourth in a row yesterday in a 90-68 win against Rutgers as an 8.5-point favorite. Ayo Dosunmu paved the way with 23 points in his second game back on the court after missing three contests with a broken nose. The junior is scoring 21.0 points-per-game while contributing 6.2 rebounds-per-game and 5.3 assists-per-game. Kofi Cockburn added 18 points and 12 rebounds for his tenth double-double of the season. The 7’0 sophomore averages 17.3 points-per-game while adding 9.7 rebounds-per-game. Dosunmu and Cockburn are two of the five returning starters Brad Underwood has this season.

The Fighting Illini have won 12 of their last 13 games to raise their record to 21-6. They are ranked third in the nation by the AP. Underwood’s team finished the regular season with a 16-4 mark, which put them in second place behind Michigan. The Illini posted impressive wins against Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin (twice), Purdue, and these Hawkeyes. They have conference losses to Ohio State, Michigan State, Rutgers, and Maryland, and non-conference losses to Baylor and Missouri.

The Fighting Illini are seventh in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They rank 21st nationally with a 37.9% shooting percentage from 3-point land, and they rank 17th with a 55.6% mark inside the arc. They rebound 33.4% of their missed shots, ranking 33rd nationally. Illinois is seventh nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency using the kenpom metrics. They limit their opponents to rebounding 22.3% of their missed shots, 13th nationally. Their opponents make 45.1% of their 2-point attempts, ranking 25th nationally.

Illinois won the previous meeting between these teams on January 29th, 80-75, in Champagne as a 3-point favorite. BetAnySports lists Illinois as a 3.5-point favorite with the total set at 152.5 in this rematch.

Computer prediction:  Illinois 78 Iowa 74

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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