The Arkansas Razorbacks will take on the Illinois Fighting Illini on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas is the #8 seed in the West region, and their record sits at 20-13 after they lost to Texas A&M in the quarterfinal of the SEC Tournament. Illinois is the #9 seed, and they’re at 20-12, most recently crashing out of the Big Ten Tournament with a loss to Penn State. Both teams limped to the end of the regular season, but they’ll get a chance to redeem themselves on Thursday.
Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Betting Odds
|Illinois||+1.5 (-110)||Over 144 (-110)||+110|
|Arkansas||-1.5 (-110)||Under 144 (-110)||-130|
Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Match Details
Fixture: Illinois Fighting Illini @ Arkansas Razorbacks
Date & Time: Thursday, March 16, 4:30 p.m. EDT
Venue: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, IA
Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Key Stats
Illinois scores over 106 points per 100 possessions, and they lean on senior Terrence Shannon Jr., who averages an impressive 17.1 PPG. The Texas Tech transfer has been huge for the Fighting Illini, but there are several other reliable scorers on the squad as well. Lately, Illinois has gotten off to a lot of slow starts, as they’re only averaging 27.4 points in the first half over their last five games. Usually, they make up for it on defense, as they hold teams to 41.7% from the field and 30.9% from three. Their have been some defensive lapses recently for Illinois, which could be a concern, but they’re also facing an Arkansas team that hasn’t been at their best.
Arkansas comes into Thursday shooting an efficient 47.6% from the field, with almost all their damage coming from inside the arc. The Razorbacks barely shoot any threes, which may be an issue at times if they get themselves into a hole. Arkansas’ big three consists of Ricky Council IV (15.9 PPG), Nick Smith Jr. (14.0 PPG), and Anthony Black (12.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 4.2 APG). These three have a ton of talent, but as mentioned before, the lack of spacing can be a problem. Defensively, Arkansas has been above average all year, but over the last couple of weeks, they’ve let teams shoot extremely well from the field. On Thursday, they’ll need to tighten up defensively to get past the first round.
Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Betting Prediction
These schools are very evenly matched, and both struggled against conference opponents. There is a lot of talent on both sides, but Arkansas has slightly more talent and depth, plus they’ve had a better defensive season. Illinois has covered just one of their last six games, and the Razorbacks have gone 5-2 ATS and SU in neutral site games this year. Back Arkansas here to squeeze out a win on Thursday, enough to cover.
Prediction: Arkansas -1.5 (-110)
Lucas Abrenica’s NCAA Basketball ATS & ML picks this season are 90-72-3 (+100.6 units)