Terrapins and Illini Fighting for NCAA Position
The battle for the top spot in the Big Ten will be waged on Friday night when the No. 9 Maryland Terrapins visit the No. 20 Illinois Fighting Illini with both teams tied for first in the conference standings.
TIME: 8 p.m. ET. TV: Fox Sports 1; LINE: Illinois -3; O/U: 130
These two teams squared off earlier in the season in a classic battle that saw the Terrapins rally from 15 points down in the second half to nip the Illini by one in College Park, Md.
Both teams have played well since then, though they need to keep doing well with No. 16 Michigan State and No. 22 Penn State just a half-game and one game behind, respectively.
Illinois Fighting Illini Looking To Rebound
Illinois had been going well in conference play apart before dropping a game against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday.
The Illini’s game against Iowa was close for both halves until the last four minutes. This came as a surprise to most who have covered Illinois all season as they have been able to close out opponents better than most.
Kofi Cockburn disappeared for most of the game, finishing with only six points and six rebounds.
Even with a disappointing performance on Sunday, Cockburn can easily bounce back on Friday when he goes against Maryland forward Jalen Smith.
Smith is somewhere near 70 pounds lighter than Cockburn. With that in mind, Kofi should be able to re-establish himself as one of the best big men in the Big Ten Conference.
What is going to be a great matchup in this game is the guards between both teams. Ayo Dosunmu and Trent Frazier against Anthony Cowan Jr. and Aaron Wiggins is going to be what everyone wants to see.
Both of those duos have the ability to light up the scoreboard, and the winner of these matchups will likely be the winner of the ball game.
Maryland has looked the best it has all season long during conference play. The Terrapins are upbeat and a run-and-gun style of team.
Illinois, on the other hand, can get out of sorts if it kicks up the pace that fast. The Illini guards are talented, but you would not want them to get out of control trying to play fast.
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This, That and a College Basketball Dart Throw
In all things basketball, Illinois has the biggest trump card out of any of the players in this game on Friday night.
Cockburn is just absolutely massive. He is a five-star recruit and is a man amongst boys on the court. Standing at 7-feet tall and 290 pounds, he can be absolutely unstoppable at times.
Smith is going to have his hands full trying to put a lid on Cockburn. What is he going to do if Cockburn wants to get a basket at the rim?
Cockburn is just an absolute beast on the block, and Illinois should feed him the ball as much as it possibly can. Feeding him may be the key to winning this game.
Our friends over at VietBet have the Fighting Illini favored in this contest at -3 and the total is at 130. All U.S. players are accepted at VietBet. Seeing as they’re the home team, this makes perfect sense.
I have liked both of these teams all season long, and it is hard to pick one over the other.
But I think Cockburn is the X-factor for this game, and he can push Illinois over Maryland. With that in mind, I’m taking the Fighting Illini to win over Maryland.
Make sure you lock in your bets before Friday’s kickoff!
The Dart Throw: Illinois Fighting Illini -3