Iowa-Illinois Preview: Hawkeyes An Underdog In Key Big Ten Clash With Fighting Illini

Written By Drew Ellis on January 29, 2021

After more than a week away from the action, the No. 7 Iowa Hawkeyes are ready to hit the hardwood again tonight.

The Hawkeyes hit the road to face No. 19 Illinois in a featured Big Ten Conference clash.

Can Iowa dial-up another strong performance and stay in the NCAA Conference title race?

Live Iowa-Illinois odds

The Hawkeyes are slight underdogs coming into Friday’s game, according to the oddsmakers.


Most Iowa sportsbooks are listing Illinois as a two-point favorite at home against Iowa.

When it comes to the moneyline, Iowa is listed at +110 to +114, while Illinois has odds of -134 to win straight up.

The over/under is listed at 161.5 points in most of the sportsbooks, with 162.5 listed in others.

How to watch Iowa vs. Illinois

  • What: No. 7 Iowa (12-3, 6-2 Big Ten) at No. 19 Illinois (10-5, 6-3 Big Ten)
  • When: 8 p.m. CST, Friday, Jan. 29
  • Where: State Farm Center in Champaign, IL
  • TV: FS1
  • Online Livestream: Fox Sports App
  • Radio: Hawkeye Radio Network
  • Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel 83
  • Online Radio Stream:
  • Live Stats:

Long history between Iowa and Illinois

There is a rich history between these two programs, as they have met 162 times in history.

Illinois is holding the edge in the series, going 86-76 against Iowa.

Illinois snapped a five-game losing streak to Iowa with a 78-76 home win last March.

The Hawkeyes have been the play for Iowa sports bettors. Iowa has covered the spread in six straight meetings with Illinois.

The trends support Iowa as well. The Hawkeyes are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 against a winning team. Illinois is just 2-5 ATS in their last seven home games against a team with a winning road record.

The public betting is slightly siding with Illinois. The Illini are getting 53% of the public wagers.

Hawkeyes looking to get back on track

Iowa has had a long time to chew on its 81-69 loss to Indiana on Jan. 21.

The Hawkeyes had their game against Nebraska postponed last Sunday.

The loss to the Hoosiers saw the Hawkeyes put up their lowest point total of the season. Iowa shot just 24 of 63 from the field and five of 23 from the arc.

That’s an issue for a team that struggles defensively as Iowa does. The Hawkeyes rank 258th nationally in defense (73.7 ppg).

Even in the loss, Luka Garza continued to play at a high level. He finished the game with 28 points and 12 rebounds.

Garza remains the clear favorite to win the John R. Wooden Award. BetMGM currently lists him at -1,000 to take home the MVP honor. The 6’11” center is averaging 26.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Garza is shooting 61% from the field and 46% from the arc.

One big question entering tonight’s game is the status of guard CJ Fredrick. The sophomore is dealing with a lower leg injury that has him questionable to play tonight.

The injury has been hampering Fredrick as of late. He was scoreless in 13 minutes against Indiana and was held to two points in recent games with Maryland and Minnesota.

On the season, Fredrick averages 9.1 points per game while shooting 50% from three-point land.

Illini coming off layoff

Like the Hawkeyes, it’s been some time since Illinois has taken the floor.

Illinois had a game with Michigan State postponed last Saturday. The Illini’s last game was a 79-65 win over Penn State, which snapped a two-game losing streak.

At 6-3 in the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes finds itself two games back of Michigan and a half a game back of Iowa in the Big Ten race.

Illinois is a pretty strong offensive team like Iowa. The Illini rank 18th nationally in point, averaging 82.9 per game. Their three-point shooting ranks 12th (39.7%) in the nation.

It’s a two-headed monster leading Illinois in guard Ayo Dosunmu and center Kofi Cockburn.

Dosunmu averages 21.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. He is third in the Wooden Award odds race at +1000 to take home the honor.

Cockburn averages 17.4 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. It was a particular block on Garza in last year’s win for Illinois that has stuck with the Iowa center.

Defensively, Illinois has struggled, but not quite like the Hawkeyes. The Illini are giving up 68.9 points per game this season.

Iowa can look to attack Illinois from the arc. Illinois is 196th nationally (33.6%) in three-point defense.

Photo by Charlie Neibergall / AP
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis has lived in Michigan his whole life and has been writing professionally 21 years. Ellis has covered anything from youth baseball in mid-Michigan, a top-25 college football program, and pro sports in the Detroit area. Always keeping busy, Ellis also has over 10 years of experience in covering sports betting, handling all major sports.

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