Minnesota vs No. 6 Illinois

Minnesota vs No. 6 Illinois | 2020 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on December 14, 2020

No. 6 Illinois is one of the betting favorites to win the Big Ten title this season in college basketball, and the Illini play their conference opener on Tuesday night against the unbeaten Minnesota Golden Gophers.

How to Bet Minnesota at Illinois NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

  • When: Tuesday, 7 PM ET
  • Where: State Farm Center, Champaign, Ill.
  • TV: ESPN2
  • Stream: ESPN app
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAB Lines: TBA (Illinois will be favored)

Last Meeting

The teams played once last season and Illinois was a 59-51 home winner. Andres Feliz scored 17 points while Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn added 13 each. Minnesota rallied from a seven-point deficit with three minutes to play to pull within one point with 1:43 left on Daniel Orturu’s layup. Giorgi Bezhanishvili was fouled with 1:30 left and made both free throws. Feliz later made two free throws to help seal the win. The Illini shot 33% and the Golden Gophers made 32% of their attempts from the field.

Why Bet on Minnesota? | 2020 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Gophers (6-0) come off a 90-61 rout of UM Kansas City on Thursday. Liam Robbins had 27 points, nine rebounds and five blocks, Marcus Carr added 15 points and seven assists.

Robbins, a 7-foot transfer from Drake, made 7 of 11 from the field and 12 of 14 from the free-throw line. Both Gach (yes, that’s his name) added 14 points and Gabe Kalscheur scored 10 for Minnesota. Kalscheur, a junior who hit 2 of 5 from 3-point range, moved into a tie for seventh in program history with 155 career 3s.

Marcus Carr made a living off feeding Robbins and others, as the Gophers’ top scorer had a team-high seven assists to go with 15 points. Carr, who entered the game ranked second in the Big Ten at 25.6 ppg, only attempted seven shots in the game and was 7-of-8 at the charity stripe. He has scored in double-figures 30 times, including in 15 of his past 16 games. He has four games this season with 22 or more points.

The Golden Gophers scored 20 points off 14 Kansas City turnovers and had a 14-0 edge in fast-break points. The Roos were called for 32 personal fouls as Minnesota outscored them 34-8 from the free-throw line.

Coach Richard Pitino utilized a starting lineup of Robbins (sixth start at Minnesota, 42nd career start), redshirt Carr (sixth start this season, 37th start at Minnesota, 64th career start), Kalscheur (sixth start this season, 73rd career start), Gach (sixth start at Minnesota, 45th career start) and sophomore forward Isaiah Ihnen (first career start). The Gophers were without the services of forward Brandon Johnson, who had started the previous three games. Not yet clear if Johnson will play here.

This will be Minnesota’s first road game of the young season. The last time the Golden Gophers played six-straight home games to start the season was in 2016-17.

Why Bet on Illinois? | 2020 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Illini (4-2) were upset 81-78 at Missouri on Saturday. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented the annual Braggin’ Rights game from being played in the traditional neutral-site setting of St. Louis’ Enterprise Center.

The Fighting Illini trailed by as many as 13 in the game, but had a chance to tie the game with under 10 seconds to play, but Ayo Dosunmu’s three-pointer rimmed out.

Dosunmu scored a career-high 36 points and Kofi Cockburn’ had 19 points and six rebounds in the annual Braggin’ Rights game. The junior and sophomore combined for 55 of the Illini’s 81 points on 21-of-30 shooting (70%).

36 points broke the Braggin’ Rights series scoring record of 33 set by Illinois’ Andy Kaufmann in 1990. In addition, the 36 tied the fifth-highest scoring performance in the NCAA this season.  They were the most by an Illinois player Malcolm Hill scored 40 against Northern Kentucky on Nov. 13, 2016.

Dosunmu shot 13-of-20, setting a career-high with 13 field goals. He also went 9-of-12 from the foul line, setting career bests for both free throws made and attempted. As for Cockburn, it marked his highest scoring total in the last 18 games, dating back to Jan. 21, 2020 (22 points at Purdue).  After exploring professional opportunities, they both withdrew from the 2020 NBA Draft to return to Champaign.

Freshman Andre Curbelo scored in double figures for the third straight game and fourth time in six games on the year, finishing with 14 points. The Illini had troubles at the free-throw line, making 17-of-28 in the game with only 9-17 in the first half. Misses from the stripe plagued Illinois in a game where the Tigers shot 84%.

Illinois’ emphasis on rebounding in the Coach Brad Underwood era continues to pay dividends. The Illini currently rank fourth in the nation in offensive rebound rate, grabbing 42% of its missed shots. Illinois is 10th nationally in defensive rebounding, meanwhile, allowing opponents to claim just 17.8% of its misses.

Expert Prediction
  • Illinois 79, Minnesota 70

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