Illinois vs. Arkansas 2023 March Madness Odds and Preview

By Jeff Stinger

The West Region sees a matchup between Illinois and Arkansas. There’s barely anything splitting the two teams on paper. Illinois finished the regular season with a 20-12 overall record but dropped their last two games, so there’s work to be done leading up to their first March Madness contest. Meanwhile, Arkansas closed its earlier campaign with a 20-13 record. The challengers are also coming from an SEC Tournament loss in the hands of Texas A&M. This clash features a closely anticipated battle between the No. 8 team and the No. 9 team.

Nitrobetting is ready to dish out key assists and lob passes with betting tips and news coverage throughout the 2023 March Madness tournament. This time, let’s take a closer look at the upcoming first-round matchup between the Illinois Fighting Illini and the Arkansas Razorbacks along with the latest game College Basketball odds for this huge 2023 March Madness showdown.

Illinois vs. Arkansas 2023 March Madness First Round Game Information

  • When: Thursday, March 16, 2023, 4:30 PM ET
  • Where: Wells Fargo Arena (IA), Des Moines, IA
  • TV: TBS
  • Radio: 98.9 The Game (Illinois) // KQSM 92.1 FM The Ticket (Arkansas)
  • Live Stream: March Madness Live
  • NCAAB Betting Odds: Illinois (+2) // Arkansas (-2)


Why Bet on the Illinois Fighting Illini?

The Fighting Illini made their way to the big stage through proper isolation scoring and defensive potential. Their lineup features length and quality playmaking abilities, which are prevalent in isolation situations. Illinois can protect both the lane and the rim. These are good traits to have against a side that can go berserk inside the paint.

Terrence Shannon Jr. tops the team in scoring, averaging 17 points per game and five boards. He also leads the team in free throw attempts and steals. His presence is a must-have for head coach Brad Underwood. Concurrently, Baylor transfer Matthew Mayer is this year’s wild card. The 23-year-old can hit challenge shots. With hot hands, Illinois can create a gap and pull away. Additionally, Mayer hit 67 shots from downtown and leads the team in blocked shots.

They have Coleman Hawkins and RJ Melendez covering the wings and can score. Dain Dianja takes care of the lane and is exceptional at his role. However, there are a few quirks to this team. Illinois is still shaky from deep. While they do attempt 42% of its shots from three, they make just 31%. This is something that needs improvement if they want to go toe-to-toe with the Razorbacks.

Why Bet on the Arkansas Razorbacks?

Head coach Eric Musselman made sure his team packs all-around attributes. Athletic abilities, offensive reliability, and defensive flexibility are what Illinois deals with on Thursday night. While the Razorbacks will miss the services of Trevon Brazile for the rest of the tournament and Nick Smith Jr. remains in and out of the lineup, Musselman made sure that his team doesn’t lose momentum moving forward.

There’s still that “what if?” question surrounding the team. This team had Final Four potential when healthy. Nevertheless, the Razorbacks take on the Big Dance with a formidable lineup. There’s positional size and a scruffy defense that can frustrate even the best teams out there. Ricky Council IV is doing a lot of heavy lifting here and leads the lineup in scoring. He is a deadly scorer inside the arc as well. Factor in Davonte Davis who is a lockdown defender and Anthony Black showcasing a high ceiling, and this squad can keep the Fighting Illini under pressure from start to finish.

If Smith gets clearance to play here, expect more scoring options available on the floor for Arkansas. He can aid more attacking plays to the rim and is easily a defensive asset for the team. More than that, Smith opens up more opportunities for his teammates.

Illinois vs. Arkansas Betting Trends

  • Illinois is 2-3 in their last five postseason contests.
  • Illinois is 1-4 against the spread in their previous five post-season games.
  • The totals have gone under in five of Illinois’ last five post-season games.
  • Arkansas is 3-2 in their previous five postseason games.
  • Arkansas is 1-4 against the spread in their last five postseason contests.
  • The totals have gone under in three of Arkansas’ last five postseason games.

Illinois vs. Arkansas Expert Prediction

Texas Tech transfer Terrence Shannon Jr. needs to get things going right away. His career highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals play a pivotal role in their attempt to overcome Arkansas. They have to use their towering average height and make up for missed three-point attempts. If Shannon and Co. can take over early, they might snatch this away from the No. 8 team.

Meanwhile, Arkansas has to put the pedal to the metal here. They are poor from deep and are less proficient from the line. More than that, the team needs to avoid putting opponents at the foul line, which can cause issues in the tournament. This team can win and cover the spread if Ricky Council IV gets his stride, and coach Musselman needs his team to connect if they want to take down the Fighting Illini to proceed to the next round.

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This is just one of the many sports betting guides that you can read here at Nitrobetting news. Stay tuned for more 2022-23 NCAAB season previews and articles and don’t forget to check out the latest basketball betting odds on our online BTC sportsbook.

*All odds stated are subject to change without prior notice.