Fighting Illini Basketball Odds

Fighting Illini Basketball Odds

Andre Curbelo

You can bet on Illinois basketball in Illinois. Gov. JB Pritzker signed House Bill 3136, making in-state college betting an option in Illinois.

The University of Illinois has undoubtedly had its moments in men’s basketball, with five appearances in the Final Four and three Big Ten Tournament championships. Although the program is not always in the preseason conversation for conference contenders, finishes in the bottom half of the Big Ten standings have been quite rare over the past couple of decades.

Unfortunately for Fighting Illini fans, state law requires that you bet on in-state colleges and universities at a retail sportsbook. The only option for doing so will be at one of the state’s several retail sportsbooks. Details on those options, betting lines on Illinois and much more are here.

That goes for futures odds on things like the men’s Big Ten championship and Final Four as well. Again, you’ll have to visit a retail sportsbook to check those out and possibly put down wagers. This restriction might see a repeal someday, as it’s already been modified once.

The idea behind this restriction is that it provides an extra layer of protection against threats to competitive integrity. However, there is little if any evidence to suggest requiring people to place such bets in person actually discourages the use of insider information or match-fixing attempts within a regulated system.

In fact, you can bet on college basketball games for every Division I school outside of Illinois.

How to Bet on the Illini in Illinois

Online wagering might be convenient but physical sportsbooks continue to thrive because they offer an experience that apps on your phone never will. Elements of the retail sportsbooks that keep customers coming back are:

  • Capability to view games while placing bets
  • Beverage and food service
  • Opportunity to socialize
  • Closeness to other types of gambling
  • Special events with prizes
  • VIP accommodations

As the (soon to be) only legal way to bet on in-state college teams without leaving the state, you can be sure that the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks will roll out the red carpet for bettors on Illini men’s basketball, especially when it’s time to bet on March Madness. Many Illinoisans can find such a location reasonably close to them.

Online Sportsbook Casino/OTB
PointsBet Hawthorne Race Course
BetRivers Rivers Casino
PointsBet Club Hawthorne Crestwood
PointsBet Player’s Pub & Grill
Caesars Grand Victoria Casino
Barstool Hollywood Aurora
FanDuel FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing
DraftKings DraftKings at Casino Queen
BetMGM Par-A-Dice Casino

Retail sportsbooks are subject to the policies of local and state governments plus casino operators on things like face mask and vaccination rules. Check with the location you are interested in to find out what the current guidance is before you go.

Ways to Bet on Illini Men’s Basketball

For individual games, the three most common markets you’ll see at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in IL are moneylines, point spreads, and point totals. These markets function the same regardless of when the game happens. So, whether it’s a regular-season contest, conference tourney, or March Madness tilt, you’ll find the same ways to bet.

Illinois moneyline bets

This is the simplest way to bet on an Illini game. All you’re staking money on in these markets are whether Illinois or its opponent for a particular game will win that contest. Here’s an example:

Team Odds to win
Texas-Rio Grande Valley +350
Illinois -475

If you believe the Illini will win the game, you’d take the short odds. If your model favors Texas-RGV to pull off the upset, however, you’d put your money down with the potential better payout. In these markets, the only thing that matters is which team wins the game.

Illinois point spread bets

This kind of builds on the moneyline in the way of you’re sort of not only picking a team to win the game but also making a call on the margin of victory for the winner as well. You don’t exactly have to pick the winner, though, as you get a certain range of deviation. Here’s another example from the same game:

Team Spread Odds
Texas-Rio Grande Valley +9.5 -110
Illinois -9.5 -110

In this example, one of your options is to take the Illini to win by at least 10 points. If they fail to do exactly that, the sportsbook will grade your bet a loss. That includes winning the game but by a smaller margin.

Your other option is to put your money on Texas-RGV to avoid losing by 10 points or more. Unless Illinois wins by 10 or more points, the sportsbook would grade your bet a win. It’s the same regardless of whether Texas-RGV wins the game outright by any margin or loses but by fewer than 10 points.

Illinois point total bets

Another common option is to completely remove which team wins the game or by how much from the contingency in your wager altogether. Instead, you can essentially bet on whether the sportsbook put its total points for a game too high or too low.

It’s important to remember that the total is the combined points that both teams score in the game as opposed to just one of the two teams. Another example shows what these markets look like:

Bet Total Odds
Over 153.5 -110
Under 153.5 -110

It’s quite simple. If you think the sportsbook’s total is too low, you’d bet the Over. If you think it’s too high, you’d bet the Under. You might be wondering what the .5 point in spreads and totals are about. That’s called a “hook” and works to avoid pushes in sports bets, as it’s impossible to score just half a point in basketball.

It’s quite common but not always used in these lines. Additionally, it’s quite common to see identical odds on both sides of spreads and totals markets. You can’t bet both sides of such markets, though, so you still have to make a pick.

Illinois prop bets

The variety and volume of such markets can vary greatly from one operator to the next and from game to game. It all depends on the bookmakers’ level of comfort with offering such action. Common examples include:

  • Apply only on the second half
  • First half total for the Illini
  • Is overtime going to occur? Yes/No

Illinois future bets

If wagering on single games isn’t your thing, there are other ways to bet on the Illini. You can put money down on Illinois to accomplish certain significant season-long or postseason objectives, often called futures. Examples of these markets include:

  • Winner of the Big Ten Men’s Tournament Conference
  • Does Illinois qualify for March Madness? Yes/No
  • Total regular season wins for the Illini

Illinois NBA Draft Picks

While no player from Illinois has yet been a top overall selection in an NBA Draft, there have been a decent number of former Illini to have their names called over the years in other slots. Recently, those players have included Ayo Dosunmu, who went 38th overall to the Chicago Bulls in 2021 and Meyers Leonard, whom the Portland Trail Blazers selected with the 11th pick in 2012.

The highest selection for an Illini player in the NBA Draft was Deron Williams in 2005. The Utah Jazz made him the third overall pick that year.

Can I bet on the NBA Draft in Illinois?

Yes, you can. What’s more, you can do it online, too. Illinois sportsbook apps offer a variety of props for the event like which player will go first overall, which team will draft certain players and whether there will be trades.

About Illinois Home Stadium

State Farm Arena, the former Assembly Hall, has been the site for Illinois men’s and women’s basketball games for nearly 50 years. It has seen several renovations and additions since, most recently in 2016.

The arena can hold 16,618 fans. Gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling also compete in the venue. The arena also hosts concerts and theater productions.

As of November 2021, Illinois athletics require all fans to wear face masks covering their mouths and noses at all times regardless of vaccination status except for when actively drinking, eating or taking medication. At this time, Illinois does not require fans to show proof of either a negative test or vaccine for admittance.

Fun Facts: The court is Lou Henson Court, named after the famous former coach. The attendance record was set on Feb. 12, 2015, at 17,087 for the men’s basketball game against Michigan. The name of the student section is the Orange Krush.

How to listen to Illinois men’s basketball games

Over 40 radio affiliates across Illinois and even into Iowa and Missouri carry live broadcasts of Illini games. Internet radio listeners can find audio feeds streaming on services like iHeart Radio, TuneIn, and SiriusXM. Users of those services should use search functions to locate Illinois feeds.

How to watch Illinois men’s basketball games

The Big Ten Network is home to many live broadcasts of Illinois games. Fans who are unsure whether their cable/live TV streaming/satellite service includes the BTN can check that and find out which channel it is on for their service here. The BTN also updates its broadcast schedule regularly.

Select games might be on ESPN or Fox stations as well. Finally, some games might be available on BTN+, the Big Ten Network’s separate subscription service.

Best Places to Watch Illinois Men’s Basketball in Chicago

If you can’t make it to Champaign for a game but still want to get the feel of being around other Illini fans while in the state’s most populous city, several places will accommodate those desires. Here’s a shortlist of the absolute best options.

Budweiser Brickhouse Tavern

  • Location: 3647 N. Clark St., Chicago

Events are the name of the game at this Wrigleyville hot spot. It’s right next door to Wrigley Field but don’t think it’s only hopping during baseball season. The tavern offers specials for Illini games to go with the two outdoor terraces. Popular menu items include fish tacos, sweet potato tots and a homerun nachos platter. The establishment also offers a weekend brunch for earlier Illini games.

Joe’s Bar

  • Location: 940 W. Weed St., Chicago

This venue offers over 120 high-definition televisions, which are sure to be playing the Illini game on appropriate nights. As you would assume from the name, it has a full bar with game night specials. However, the food isn’t to be overlooked as fried cheese curds, smoked wings and buffalo chicken egg rolls keep you full as you enjoy the game.

Parlay at Joy District

  • Address: 112 West Hubbard Street

The River North District of Chicago gets its foot in the door here with this parlor. It’s impossible to miss the 200-inch projection screen and unique menu items include piri-piri chicken wings, avocado crab toast and chickpea fries. Craft beers and ciders also draw Illini fans into this venue on game nights, which dominate the viewing on the parlor’s rooftop.

How Did Illini Men’s Basketball Do in 2020-21?

In the 2020-21 season, the Illini went 24-7 and were ranked second in the final Associated Press Poll. They finished 16-4 in Big Ten play, just losing out on the top seed in the conference tournament but going on to win that tourney anyway.

They were the top seed in the Midwest region of the NCAA Tournament, in which they won their opening round game against Drexel but then fell to Loyola Chicago in the second round.

Ayo Dosunmu led the team with 20.1 points per game and 5.3 assists per game. Kofi Cockburn set the pace in rebounds with 9.5 per game to go with his 17.7 points per game. The other player to average scoring in double figures was Trent Frazier at 10.2 per game.

The Last Time the Fighting Illini Men’s Team …

  • Ranked No. 10 on Nov. 15, 2021.
  • Reached the Final Four Game in 2005
  • Never won a National Championship.
  • 2005: Won the Big Ten Regular Season; 2021: Won the Big Ten Conference Tournament.
  • Defeated a Top-Five Team: On March 2, 2021, they won against No. 2 Michigan with a score of 76-53.

Illinois Men’s Basketball Notable Coaches

Perhaps the most famous men’s basketball coach in Illinois history is the man the court is named after Lou Henson. He was the second to take Illinois to a Final Four, and the Illini made 12 March Madness appearances over his 21 years from 1976 through 1996. That included eight consecutive years qualifying for the dance. Other coaches certainly earned their distinction, too, including:

  • From 1948 to 1967, Harry Combes led his teams in 647 games and achieved a cumulative winning percentage of .678. This still places him among the top five Illini men’s basketball coaches who have at least 100 games under their belt. Combes holds the distinction of being the first coach to lead the Illini to a Final Four, an achievement he accomplished three times during his tenure in Champaign.
  • Ralph Jones was a pioneer in men’s basketball in Illinois. His teams clinched a conference championship in two different leagues around the time the Big Ten was established. Jones’ stint with the Illini spanned from 1913 to 1920, during which he amassed an impressive record of 85-34.
  • Bill Self’s stint in Champaign was brief, spanning only three seasons, but his teams had an impressive 78-24 record. None of his teams ever finished lower than 13th in the AP poll and they never recorded a Big Ten record below 11-5.
  • From 2004 to 2012, Bruce Weber recorded a winning percentage of .675. He remains the only men’s basketball coach for the Illini to have led a team to the national championship game, a feat he accomplished in the 2004-05 season. Under his leadership, the men’s team qualified for the tournament in all but three seasons.

Illinois Men’s Basketball Through the Years

As one of the original members of the Western Conference and then the Big Ten, Illinois can count almost 120 years of men’s basketball. The first season was 1905-06, in which the Illini won six of their 14 games. The most successful year in the first decade of the 20th century was the 1907-08 season, in which they won 20 out of 26 games.

The decade of the first World War saw the formation of the Big Ten and several successful years for Illinois, including the undefeated 1914-15 campaign. The Illini posted double-digit wins in three other years during the second decade of the 20th century.

As the 1920s came and went, giving way to the 1930s, those decades all saw Illinois’ levels of success rise and fall in disparate years. The 1940s saw the creation of the first NCAA D1 men’s tournament, which the Illini first qualified for in the 1941-42 season.

Harry Combes started taking Illinois to national prominence in the 1950s, reaching three Final Fours in four years. The 1960s saw Illinois try to recapture that magic with several coaches until Lou Henson arrived on the scene in the mid-1970s.

Under Henson, the Illini established themselves as a tournament staple and reached another Final Four through the 1980s and 1990s. The transition to the 21st century and new millenium brought Bill Self into Champaign, making the program a destination for high-profile coaches.

Bruce Weber built upon Self’s success, taking the program to its first and so far only national championship game in men’s basketball in 2005. Since Weber’s tenure ended after the 2011-12 season, the Illini have struggled to replicate that success. Current coach Brad Underwood seems to have a handle on that, taking the Illini back to March Madness and as a top seed in 2020-21.

Fighting Illini Historic Facts

  • All-Time Record: 1,835-1,032
  • NCAA Tournament Record: 41-32
  • National Titles: Zero
  • Titles of Conference: 17 in Regular Season, 3 in Tournament.
  • Consensus All-Americans: 16
  • Deon Thomas, who scored 2,129 points between 1990-91 and 1993-94, was the leading scorer.
  • James Augustine was the leading rebounder from 2002-03 to 2005-06 with 1,023 rebounds.