Big Ten Semifinal Betting Preview: Iowa Advances To Face Illinois

Posted By Russ Mitchell on March 12, 2021 - Last Updated on March 13, 2021

Patience paid off for an Iowa team that took the court late Friday and advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

The third-seeded Hawkeyes moved past No. 6 Wisconsin 62-57 in the last quarterfinal at Indianapolis. Iowa covered the -4 to -4.5 odds going into the game, so it paid to back the Hawks.

Earlier in the evening No. 2 seed Illinois cruised past No. 7 seed Rutgers 90-68 to set up an enticing matchup agains the Hawkeyes. Saturday’s tip will be close to 2:30 p.m. — basically 25 minutes after the noon semifinal between No. 1 seed Michigan and No. 5 seed Ohio State. Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey said he wants his team to have plenty of rest and ice going into the matchup with the Illini:

“They have a lot of weapons, and they can hurt you in so many different ways. But they also defend — you know, a lot of really good offensive teams don’t, and they do. So, you put a game plan together. There’s a lot of things you have to look at. We’re a team, sometimes, that’s hard to guard as well. We’ve had three great games with them the last two years. And hopefully we’ll have another one.”

Once the lines are set, you’ll be able to see odds here:

Iowa vs. Illinois odds

Sportsbooks went blue for Michigan

All four Big Ten semifinalists are in the Associated Press top nine: No. 3 Illinois, No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Iowa and No. 9 Ohio State.

Iowa sportsbooks have liked the Wolverines to cut down the nets Sunday. At the start of the tournament, DraftKings, Betfred and BetRivers sportsbooks put Michigan at +175. FanDuel (+350) and William Hill (+180) break from the pack with a better payout for the Wolverines.

Sportsbooks generally liked Illinois as a second choice before the tournament started. The Illini were a co-favorite at William Hill, but the Hawkeyes are a second choice at Betfred. Of course, early-round tournament games impacted the late-round futures, so check the live odds at PlayIA.com often.

Big Ten futures odds

All 14 conference schools participated in the tournament. Wednesday‘s first-round games took place between seeds 12 and 13 and seeds 11 and 14.

The No. 5-10 seeds began tournament play with second-round games on Thursday. Again, Iowa was among the four highest-seeded teams at the end of conference play, which earned the Hawks Friday’s spot to close out the quarterfinals. The semifinals will take place Saturday, March 13, while the championship game is slated for Sunday, March 14.

BTN carried the early rounds, but now CBS takes over for the semifinals and Sunday’s championship.

Here’s a look at the Big 10 Tournament pairings and results. You can also see the full bracket by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 10

  • 5:30 p.m. — Minnesota 51, Northwestern 46
  • 8 p.m. (est.) — Penn State 72, Nebraska 66

Thursday, March 11

  • 10:30 a.m. — Maryland 68, Michigan State 57
  • 2 p.m. (est) — Ohio State 79, Minnesota 75
  • 5:30 p.m. — Rutgers 61, Indiana 50
  • 8 p.m. (est.) — Wisconsin 75, Penn State 74

Friday, March 12

  • 10:30 a.m. — Michigan 79, Maryland 66
  • 1 p.m. (est) — Ohio St. 87, Purdue 78 (OT)
  • 5:30 p.m. — Illinois 90, Rutgers 68
  • 8 p.m. (est.) — Iowa 62, Wisconsin 57

Saturday, March 13

  • Noon — Ohio St. 68, Michigan 67
  • 2:30 p.m. (est.) — Illinois vs. Iowa (CBS)

Sunday, March 14

  • 2:30 p.m. — Big Ten Championship (CBS)

Hawkeye health could still change odds

Second-team All-Big Ten G/F Joe Wieskamp was able to play in the quarterfinal after sustaining a leg injury in the regular-season finale against the Badgers. At his weekly press conference Tuesday, McCaffrey told reporters:

“The problem with that is you can’t guarantee he’s going to be at 100% if he plays Friday, Saturday, Sunday. We play Friday night, (then) Saturday afternoon. We’ll factor that in as well. If he feels really good, my anticipation will be to play him on Friday. We’ll see how he does. If he’s not at or near 100 percent, then we might hold him. We’re going to do what’s in the best interest of the student-athlete, bottom line.”

Iowa to stay in Indy after the Big Ten Tournament

Iowa traveled to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday and the team plans to stay in the Hoosier State until their last game is played. They won’t return to Iowa City between the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments, according to McCaffrey:

“I don’t think our players have ever had to pack for 28 days. It starts with that. You can imagine what our coaches and student managers are bringing. We’re bringing academic folks, obviously our strength and conditioning coach. Then, the next phase is kind of staying sequestered with our group, not exiting the hotel, roaming around town, getting involved in contact tracing situations that could put us in jeopardy of having a healthy team.”

NCAA Tournament organizers will keep all 68 teams in a “bubble” for March Madness.

Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the Indianapolis Colts) will set up two courts. Other sites include Bankers Life Fieldhouse (home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers), Hinkle Fieldhouse (Butler University), Indiana Farmers Coliseum (on the Indiana State Fairgrounds), Mackey Arena (Purdue’s Court in West Lafayette) and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington (Indiana University’s court).

The NCAA says only one game at a time will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium.

March Madness schedule

Key betting dates to know from the NCAA:

  • Selection Sunday — 5 p.m. Sunday, March 14
  • First Four — 3 p.m. start on Thursday, March 18
  • First round — 11 a.m. start on Friday, March 19, and Saturday, March 20
  • Second round — 11 a.m. start on Sunday, March 21, and Monday, March 22
  • Sweet 16 — 1 p.m. start on Saturday, March 27, and noon start on Sunday, March 28
  • Elite Eight — 6 p.m. start on Monday, March 29, and 5 p.m. start on Tuesday, March 30
  • Final Four — 4 p.m. start on Saturday, April 3
  • NCAA Championship game — 8 p.m. Monday, April 5
Photo by Charlie Neibergall / AP
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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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