The 8th-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks will take on the 9th-seeded Illinois Fighting Illini in a March Madness West Region matchup Thursday in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. The winner will most likely meet the No. 1 seeded Kansas in the second round. The Razorbacks (20-13, 8-10 SEC), who shared ninth place in the SEC standings, have lost four of five. The Fighting Illini (20-12, 11-9 Big Ten), who tied for fifth in the Big Ten, have lost three of four. This is Illinois’ 33rd appearance in the NCAA tournament while Arkansas’ 35th appearance. Illinois leads the all-time series 5-0, including a 4-0 lead at neutral courts.
Tipoff from the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET. The Razorbacks are 2-point favorites in the latest Illinois vs. Arkansas odds from Caesars Sportsbook, while the over/under for total points scored is set at 143.5. Before you hit any Arkansas vs. Illinois tips, be sure to check out the SportsLine projection model college basketball predictions and betting advice.
The SportsLine projection model simulates each Division I college basketball game 10,000 times. The model is competing in the 2023 79-53 NCAA Tournament with top college basketball picks this season and fetching nearly $1,300 for $100 players. Everyone who has followed him has seen huge returns.
Now the model has set its sights on Illinois vs. Arkansas and just laid out its picks and CBB predictions. You can now visit SportsLine to see the model selection. Here are the college basketball lines and trends for Arkansas vs. Illinois:
- Spread between Illinois and Arkansas: Arkansas -2
- Illinois vs. Arkansas Over/Under: 144.5 points
- Illinois-Arkansas monetary line: Illinois +115, Arkansas -135
- ILL: The Fighting Illini are 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games against a team with a win percentage above .600
- ARK: The Razorbacks are 4-1 ATS on a neutral side in their last five games
- Illinois vs. Arkansas selection: See selection here
Why Arkansas can cover
Junior Guard Ricky Council IV helps power the Razorbacks. In 33 games, including 26 starts, he averaged 15.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals. He connects 44.5% of his field goals and 77.4% of his free throws. While playing in the SEC tournament, he had double-digit points in five straight games, including 22 points in a 97-65 win over Georgia on February 21. He scored a season-high 27 points in a 74-61 win over Troy Nov. 28
Freshman guard Nick Smith Jr. has started 11 of his 14 games for Arkansas. He has hit double digits in seven straight games, including 26 points against Georgia on February 21 and 25 in an 88-79 loss to Kentucky on March 4. He put on a 16-point performance with four assists in a 67-61 loss to Texas A&M in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament. He has an annual average of 14 points, two assists and 1.8 rebounds per game.
Why Illinois can cover
Senior Guard Terrence Shannon Jr. helps energize the Fighting Illini. In 30 games, including 29 starts, the Texas Tech transfer was a force, averaging 17.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals. He connects 44% of his field goals and 79.2% of his free throws. In the second round of the Big Ten tournament against Penn State, Shannon scored 19 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists.
Senior forward Matthew Mayer, a transfer from Baylor, has started all 32 games for the Fighting Illini. In 26.7 minutes, he averages 12.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.2 assists per game. He has double-digit goals in seven of his last eight games, including 24 points in a 91-87 double overtime win over Michigan on March 2. He had a double-double, 19 points and 10 rebounds in a 78-60 win in Minnesota on Jan. 16.
How to make Illinois vs. Arkansas picks
SportsLine’s model is sloping down on the score. In fact, Terrence Shannon Jr. of Illinois and Ricky Council IV of Arkansas are said to score two points short of their season averages. It also generated an anti-spread pick that cashes in over 60% of the simulations. The model selection is only available from SportsLine.
So who will win Illinois vs. Arkansas? And which side of the spread yields over 60% of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Illinois-Arkansas fight you should jump to and find out.