Illinois vs. Marquette NCAA Basketball Picks and Odds Analysis

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D.J. Carton #21 of the Marquette Golden Eagles. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

Early tournaments will be all the rage later this week, but the Gavitt Tipoff Games get an early jump on the action beginning on Monday’s sports betting card when the Illinois Fighting Illini travel to take on the Marquette Golden Eagles.

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Marquette Golden Eagles

Monday, November 15, 2021 – 7:00 PM EST at Fiserv Forum

Canceled a year ago because of COVID-19, this will be the sixth Gavitt Tipoff Games with all of them pitting the Big Ten and Big East. Illinois and Marquette tip the event off as the first of two games on Monday. There will be two games per night through Thursday, and this year’s 16-team field includes seven squads that reached the NCAA Men’s Tournament last season. Those 16 teams also enter the week 30-2 on the young season, meaning as many as half of the field will suffer their first loss in this event.

Illinois was ranked No. 10 by the coaches and No. 11 by the AP in the two preseason polls, and the Fighting Illini sit in the third tier of teams to win the NCAA title according to the college basketball futures. The Fighting Illini were picked fourth in the Big Ten. Marquette has its work cut out just to make the NCAA Tournament, and the Golden Eagles are well back in the Big East pack as a +5000 underdog.

Coleman Hawkins #33 of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Michael Hickey/Getty Images/AFP

First Meeting Since December 1993 Unless you have a ticket inside Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum, you’ll need to catch the broadcast on FS1. BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review) is carrying the Fighting Illini -8½ with 143½ for the scoreboard target. Monday will be the 15th meeting between Illinois and Marquette, and the first in almost 28 years. The Fighting Illini own a 9-5 advantage in previous clashes, though the Golden Eagles won the last two.

The most recent took place nearly 28 years ago when Marquette hosted Illinois and pulled off a small upset with a 74-65 triumph over the then-No. 16 Fighting Illini. This will mark Illinois' fourth appearance in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, following a 2015 visit to Providence and back-to-back home games in 2017 versus DePaul and 2018 against Georgetown.

The Illini own a 1-2 record in the event. Marquette has gone 1-3 in four previous appearances, the lone victory coming in 2019 at home against Purdue. Cockburn still sitting due to Suspension A couple of easy wins to begin the season have Illinois looking like the team that earned a No. 1 seed for March Madness this past spring.

Granted, the games came against lesser opponents in Jackson State and Arkansas State, but head coach Brad Underwood will take the 2-0 start considering the Fighting Illini were playing without their big man. Illinois just missed a 25-point cover in the 71-47 win over Jackson State to begin the campaign, getting 20 points from senior wing Jacob Grandison and another 13 from Coleman Hawkins.

The Fighting Illini followed that with a 92-53 rout of Arkansas State to easily cover the 16½-point spread at top sportsbooks. They didn’t have Kofi Cockburn for either game and won’t for this one as the senior center finishes a 23-game suspension for being too anxious to cash on his name, image, and likeness merchandise.

Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk filled in down low in the first two games and responded with 10 boards each game. Eagles Transitioning to Shaka Smart The Shaka Smart era at Marquette began with a pair of victories, though the Golden Eagles failed to cover either game against SIU-Edwardsville and New Hampshire.

Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk #13 of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Michael Hickey/Getty Images/AFP

Marquette was giving up 20½ in the season opener to SIU-Edwardsville and needed a strong effort in the second half to come away with an 88-77 win. It was a 13-point line the Golden Eagles were handed against UNH, and Marquette was in a dogfight to the very end for a 75-70 final.

One problem in both games was the inability to score from outside, the Golden Eagles a combined 14-53 (26%) from outside the arc in the two wins. Like Illinois, Marquette also has a key player in time out to begin the season. Greg Elliott was benched for the first four games due to being naughty, and his absence is partly to blame for the team’s 3-point woes.

Scoring from outside was always been a huge part of Smart’s game when he was at VCU and Texas, so missing Elliott is a big deal. I’m not sold on Elliott’s absence being enough for Illinois to be favored by 8½ points, especially since the Illini are also missing Cockburn. Let’s run with a free NCAA basketball pick on the home's dog.

NCAAB Pick: Marquette +8½ (-115) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Marquette +8½ (-115)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.