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Illinois vs Arkansas Odds, Lines & Picks – Razorbacks 1.5-Point Favorites in March Madness Round of 64

Bryan Thiel

by Bryan Thiel in College Basketball

Updated Mar 15, 2023 · 3:22 PM PDT

Makhi Mitchell backs down Julius Marble; Arkansas Razorbacks
Mar 10, 2023; Nashville, TN, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks forward Makhi Mitchell (15) dribbles the ball while defended by Texas A&M Aggies forward Julius Marble (34) during the second half at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
  • The No. 9 Illinois Fighting Illini take on the No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks in the first round of March Madness on Thursday
  • Arkansas opens up as a 1.5-point favorite in the first meeting between these programs since 2004
  • See the Illinois vs Arkansas odds ahead of tip-off at 4:30 pm ET on Thursday

When it comes to March Madness, there’s nothing better than watching the eighth and ninth seeds duke it out. While you don’t necessarily get the drama of an outright upset, they’re the most evenly-matched games of the first round.

That’s what we’ll get on Thursday when (9) Illinois (20-12; 17-14-1 ATS) takes on (8) Arkansas (20-13; 16-16-1 ATS). Both the Fighting Illini and Razorbacks enter tournament play having lost three of their last four overall.

Tip-off for the West Regional is set for 4:30 pm ET from Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

Illinois vs Arkansas Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Illinois Fighting Illini +1.5 (-105) +108 Ov 143.5 (-110)
Arkansas Razorbacks -1.5 (-115) -130 Un 143.5 (-110)

Arkansas enters the first round as a 1.5-point favorite. Although both teams come in a bit cold considering their recent results, Vegas is right to expect a close game. In their last victory, the Illini pulled off a 91-87 double overtime win against Michigan on March 6th. Meanwhile the Razorbacks last win was against Auburn, 76-73 in the second round of the SEC Tournament.

When it comes to their odds to win the NCAA Tournament, it’s an uphill climb for both programs. Arkansas has the better odds to win it all, but they’re 25th at +6000. The Razorbacks are +1400 to come out of the West, while Illinois are set at +3500.


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Odds as of March 15 from FanDuel Sportsbook. Check out the FanDuel Sportsbook Promo Code ahead of tip off!

Arkansas Looks for Elite Eight Three-Peat

The Razorbacks are coming off of back-to-back appearances in the Elite Eight. Last year they were ousted by Duke, and they fell to Baylor the year before.

As Eric Musselman entered his fourth season as head coach, expectations were high. Arkansas was ranked 10th in the preseason AP Top 25, with SI ranking them seventh in the nation.

But then the injuries started to mount. Nick Smith Jr has been in and out of the lineup with a knee injury that forced him to miss the start of the season and Trevon Brazile tore his ACL.

A potential top-ten pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, Smith can turn it on when he needs to. He has had two red-hot stretches this year. The first was a three-game stretch in early December when he averaged 19.7 points and shot 45%. Arkansas won all three of those games.

The second run was from February 21st to March 4th. He averaged 21.8 over those four games, but the Razorbacks only won once. He also turned in a dud against Tennessee going 3-for-13 from the field.

No Recent History for Illini, Razorbacks

Illinois and Arkansas haven’t faced off since 2004, and fans of the Razorbacks are probably happy about that.

In five meetings, they’ve never beaten the Illini.

Illinois vs Arkansas: Head to Head

KenPom Ranking 20th
112.2 (58th) Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 112.6 (51st)
95.7 (32nd) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 94.0 (16th)
+16.48 (33rd) Adjusted Efficiency Margin +18.63 (20th)

These two teams are about as close as you can get. It’s almost splitting hairs offensively and defensively.

If Illinois has a shot at moving on to the second round, then Terrence Shannon Jr has to show up and the Illini have to take care of the ball.


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Illinois vs Arkansas Pick

This could be an early-round classic, or it could have both fan bases groaning in agony. Both teams have battled inconsistencies throughout this year. But someone has to put it together on Thursday afternoon, right?

Based on pedigree alone, backing Musselman, Smith Jr, and the Razorbacks is the play. When it comes to your March Madness Bracket they may not have another Elite Eight trip in them, but they should be able to navigate their way to the weekend.

The Pick: Arkansas Razorbacks (-140)


Other first round March Madness predictions:

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