Illinois vs Penn State Prediction, Odds & Best Bet for March 9 Big Ten Tournament (Back the Underdog in Chicago)

Duel Staff
Illinois vs Penn State prediction, odds and betting insights for NCAA Big Ten Tournament game.
Illinois vs Penn State prediction, odds and betting insights for NCAA Big Ten Tournament game. / AP Photos/Gary M. Baranec

Illinois vs Penn State Game Info

  • 2022-23 NCAA Basketball Big Ten Tournament Game
  • Illinois (20-11, 11-9 Big Ten) vs. Penn State (19-12, 10-10 Big Ten)
  • Date: Thursday, March 9, 2023
  • Time: 6:30 PM ET
  • Venue: United Center -- Chicago, Illinois
  • Coverage: BTN

The Big Ten Tournament continues on Thursday with a thrilling matchup between the Penn State Nittany Lions and Illinois Fighting Illini. Penn State has never won a conference title, while Illinois has won three. The winner of this second round matchup will advance to play the Northwestern Wildcats.

Penn State enters as a victor in five of its last six games following a 65-64 win over Maryland on Sunday. Meanwhile, Illinois has won three of its last five games, but fell short in a 76-71 loss to Purdue on Sunday. Which Big Ten squad will keep its conference title hopes alive with a victory on Thursday?

Illinois vs Penn State Odds & Spread

Illinois enters this contest as a slight favorite on the moneyline and spread per FanDuel Sportsbook's odds. This 6:30 p.m. ET clash also features an over/under of 139.5 points, which is about average compared to Thursday's projected totals.

Illinois vs Penn State Betting Trends

  • Illinois has 18 wins in 31 games against the spread this season.
  • The Fighting Illini's ATS record as 2.5-point favorites or more is 12-12.
  • Illinois has seen 14 of its 31 games hit the over.
  • Penn State has beaten the spread 16 times in 30 games.
  • Against the spread as 2.5-point underdogs or more, the Nittany Lions are 7-5.
  • Penn State has played 30 games this season, and 16 of them have gone over the total.
Illinois Rank Illinois AVG Penn State AVG Penn State Rank
114th 74.6 Points Scored 72.4 166th
76th 66.6 Points Allowed 68.2 123rd
22nd 35.6 Rebounds 29.6 296th
46th 10.2 Off. Rebounds 5.0 362nd
139th 7.7 3pt Made 10.8 2nd
234th 12.4 Assists 14.3 93rd
251st 12.6 Turnovers 8.3 3rd

Illinois vs Penn State Prediction & Pick

Penn State has played with a flair for the dramatic as of late, winning back-to-back games on shots made in the last few seconds. The Nittany Lions have already taken down the Fighting Illini twice this season, posting a dominant 74-59 victory on Dec. 10 and a comfortable 93-81 victory on Feb. 14.

Illinois shot only 14-of-50 from beyond the arc (28.0%) across those two contests, which is not going to get the job done opposite Penn State's lethal three-point offense. The Nittany Lions rank seventh in three-point shooting percentage (38.9%) and log 10.8 made threes per game (No. 2 in NCAA).

Illinois has lost eight of its last 12 games against Penn State, so fade the Fighting Illini on Thursday.

Final Score Prediction: Illinois: 70 | Penn State: 74

Illinois vs Penn State Best Bet

There's a lot to like about Penn State's chances of keeping this game close. The Nittany Lions are a solid 7-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last eight games in March and 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games against the Fighting Illini. They are also 3-1 ATS when playing on a neutral court this year.

Illinois is only a dismal 1-7 ATS in its last eight games played in March and 2-5 ATS in its last seven games against a Big Ten opponent. The Fighting Illini have allowed the Nittany Lions to shoot 54.1% from the floor this season (60-of-111), so fading their defense lines up as the best option here.

Bet: Penn State Nittany Lions +2.5 (-110)

Larry Rupp is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Larry Rupp also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username phillyfan424. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel. 

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.