March Madness Round 64: Illinois vs. Arkansas Betting Preview

March Madness Round 64: Illinois vs. Arkansas Betting Preview

Some of the best games of the NCAA Tournament normally come from the #8 vs. the #9 seed. This could be the case in the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday, as the eighth-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks will face off against the ninth-seeded Illinois Fighting Illini.

The Fighting Illini are making their third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, while the Razorbacks are back for their fourth-straight go-around.

Could This Be One of the Best Matchups of the NCAA Tournament?

We will now preview each of the two teams, and then we’ll give you our betting predictions for this Round of 64 contest. Keep reading for college basketball odds, analysis, and a free pick for Illinois vs. Arkansas.


2023 March Madness Round of 64 Game
Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Betting Preview

Arkansas of SEC meets Illinois of Big Ten in NCAA Tourney First Round
ATS Odds: Arkansas -2.5
Over/Under Odds: 144.5 -110
When: Thursday, March 16 at 4:20 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, IA
TV / Streaming: TBS


Why Bet on Illinois Fighting Illini against Arkansas Razorbacks?

Brad Underwood’s squad has been a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde team this season. At times, the Illini have looked like a title contender, while at others, they’ve looked more like a team destined for the NIT . The Illini have lost five of its last eight games, including a loss to Penn State early in the Big 10 Tournament. With early season wins over Texas and UCLA, Illinois has the potential to make a long run, but they also have the potential to lose their first game.

Led by Terrence Shannon, Jr. the Illini have the ability to score points in bunches. Shannon is flanked by Coleman Hawkins, sharp-shooting Matthew Mayer, and big man Dain Dainja. The Illini tend to live and die by the three-pointer, so if they’re hitting from beyond the arc, they’re a very dangerous team.


Why Bet on Arkansas Razorbacks against Illinois Fighting Illini?

Eric Musselman has brought the Arkansas Razorbacks program back to prominence. Arkansas came into the season as a Top 10 team, but when Trevon Brazile tore his ACL early on, Arkansas’s season didn’t go exactly as planned. Arkansas will now try to live up to their preseason hype.

Musselman brought in the nation’s top freshman, Nick Smith, to lead his team. Smith was injured early in the season, but when he has been on the floor, he has played well. Smith, along with fellow five-star freshman Anthony Black, have led the Razorbacks this season. Black was hurt in the Arkansas loss to Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament, so we’re not sure how healthy he’ll be for the matchup with the Fighting Illini.


Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Relevant Trends

  • Redhawks are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games
  • SE Missouri State is 4-1 ATS in their last 4 games following an ATS win
  • Over is 8-1 in the Redhawks last 9 games following a straight up win
  • Islanders are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 neutral site games
  • Texas A&M-CC is 6-0 ATS in their last 6 versus a team with a winning SU record
  • Over is 4-1 in the Islanders’ last 5

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Final Betting Prediction

The oddsmakers have set the lines for the first-round games. Arkansas is an early 2.5-point favorite in this one. Arkansas is 16-17 against the spread this season, while Illinois is 18-14. Arkansas was a favorite in 23 of their 33 games this season. In those 23 games, the Razorbacks were 12-10-1 against the spread. 

One thing that may make you want to pick the Illini, is the fact that in the five games that they were 2.5-point or more underdogs, Illinois was 5-0 against the spread. The Illini were just 1-5 against the spread in their last six, so we’re really not seeing a trend towards taking Illinois. 

We like Arkansas in this one. We think their defense will give Illinois problems, and the inconsistency of the Illini makes us weary of them. Arkansas is 9-1 against the spread in their last 10 games against Big 10 opponents, and we think after Thursday’s game, it will be 10-1. 

March Madness Round of 64 Pick: Arkansas | Bet Illinois vs. Arkansas Today
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