Illinois Fighting Illini (9-4) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (10-3)
January 4, 2023 9:00 pm EDT
The Line: Northwestern Wildcats -1.5 / Illinois Fighting Illini +1.5 ; Over/Under: -
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The Illinois Fighting Illini and the Northwestern Wildcats meet Wednesday in college basketball action from Welsh-Ryan Arena. Illinois enters this game at 9-4 overall. The Illini beat Bethune-Cookman in their last game. As for Northwestern, they’re sitting at 10-3 following a loss to Ohio State. Check back all season long for free college basketball picks at Sports Chat Place.
Illinois was 7-3 after 10 games this year, falling to only Virginia, Maryland and Penn State. The Illini have gone on a 2-1 stretch since then, with a loss to Missouri in between wins over Alabama A&M and Bethune-Cookman.
Matched up versus Bethune-Cookman last Thursday, the Illini were up 47-19 by the break. Illinois cruised from there and came up with an 85-52 win. Dain Dainja topped the team with 22 points, and Coleman Hawkins doubled on 11 points and 11 boards.
Over on the Northwestern side, they hit an 8-2 run across their first 10 games. The losses came to Auburn and Pittsburgh. The Wildcats would then beat UIC and Brown before taking another loss to Ohio State.
In their Sunday matchup versus Ohio State, the Wildcats were down 35-17 by halftime. Northwestern got better from there on a 40-38 run but still lost 73-57. Chase Audige led the team with 16 points and two rebounds.
PICK: I’m going to stay with Northwestern. Probably not touching it, though; you could make a great case either way. The Wildcats didn’t play very well in the first half versus a good Ohio State team in their last game. That said, Northwestern has had a pretty good season so far. The Wildcats have scored 63 or fewer points in three of the last five games, so they’ll likely want to keep the total lower here. As for Illinois, some of their luster has worn off recently but they’re still a great squad. I like this one to be close the whole way, with Northwestern powering out a late cover.