Big Ten Breakdown: Rutgers at Illinois Preview and Betting Pick

  • Rutgers Must Find Offense
  • Ayo and Kofi Leading the Way
  • Rutgers vs Illinois Preview and Pick

There are just eight teams remaining in the 2021 Big Ten Tournament, and the top four seeds will be in action for the first time on Friday. The Illinois Fighting Illini are the number two seed in the conference, and they will take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Friday night.

Rutgers advanced to the quarterfinal round by beating Indiana on Thursday night by a final score of 61-50. The Scarlet Knights improved their record to 15-10 on the season, and should be safely in the NCAA Tournament field.

Illinois will be in action for the first time on Friday night after going 16-4 during the regular season in the Big Ten Conference. The Fighting Illini are now the number three ranked team in the country, and they come into this event with a ton of momentum.

Rutgers defeated Illinois by a score of 91-88 earlier this season in a game that was played all the way back in December.

Rutgers Must Find Offense

If Rutgers is going to be able to keep up with Illinois then this team will have to find some offense. The Scarlet Knights have been struggling to score of late, and advanced on Thursday night despite just scoring 61 points.

Ron Harper Jr. leads the team with 15.3 poitns per game, but he has not looked like himself for the past two months. Harper tore up the Fighting Illini in the first meeting, and he will need to find his shooting stroke again.

Guards Jacob Young and Geo Baker have chipped in with more than 24 points per game, and they will play a key role in this matchup as well.

Rutgers is holding opponents to just 68 points per game, and their defense is the biggest reason that they won on Thursday night. Stopping Illinois is a much bigger challenge than trying to corral the explosive Illini.

Ayo, Kofi Leading Illini Charge

The Fighting Illini have a pair of All-Americans on this team, and that dynamic duo has been absolutely dominant in Big Ten Conference action. Ayo Dosunmu is arguably the best player in college basketball, and center Kofi Cockburn is one of the most dominant players in the country.

Dosunmu leads the team with 20.9 points per game, but he does a little bit of everything for his team. Cockburn is a double-double machine, and he has been known to punish rims on occassion.

This Illinois team is averaging 80.7 points per game while holding opponents to just 68 a night. The Fighting Illini want to play extremely fast, and they have the depth to be able to wear down the Scarlet Knights.

Illinois believes that it was robbed of a Big Ten championship, and that will have this team motivated in the Big Ten Tournament.

Rutgers vs Illinois Preview: Illini Fly Into Semifinals

This Illinois team has fans thinking about the ‘89 Flyin’ Illini and the 2004-05 team, but there is still some work to be done. The Fighting Illini could potentially lock up a number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament win in this game, but they want to win the Big Ten Tournament.

Rutgers was able to beat Illinois earlier in the season, but a lot has changed since that time. The Scarlet Knights have really struggled to find offense since that point, and Illinois has been an offensive juggernaut.

There might be some rust on the part of Illinois early in this game, and that will allow the Scarlet Knights to keep it close. That won’t last all night though, and the dynamic duo of Dosunmu and Cockburn will take this game over.

It’s hard to blow someone out in the Big Ten Tournament, but that’s exactly what will happen on Friday night as Illinois wins this game by 15+.

Final Score:
Illinois 82
Rutgers 64