Penn State vs. Illinois odds, line: College basketball picks, Feb. 18 predictions by model on 54-30 run

The Penn State Nittany Lions (20-5, 10-4) will aim to keep their torrid pace going when the Illinois Fighting Illini (16-9, 8-6) visit Happy Valley on Tuesday evening. Penn State has won eight games in a row, while Illinois is entering the contest with an eye toward halting a four-game losing streak. Illinois will also have a close eye on the injury report, with star guard Ayo Dosunmu uncertain to play with an ankle injury. 

Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. ET at Bryce Jordan Center. Sportsbooks list the Nittany Lions as 6.5-point home favorites, holding steady from the opener, while the over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 142 in the latest Illinois vs. Penn State odds. Before making any Penn State vs. Illinois picks or college basketball predictions, see what SportsLine's advanced computer model has to say.

This model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, has crushed its top-rated college basketball picks against the spread the past three years, returning $2,770 to $100 players. It also entered Week 16 of the 2019-20 season on a 54-30 run on all top-rated college basketball picks. Anybody who followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Penn State vs. Illinois. You can visit SportsLine now to see its picks. Here are the college basketball lines and trends for Illinois vs. Penn State:

  • Illinois vs. Penn State spread: Penn State -6.5
  • Illinois vs. Penn State over-under: 142 points
  • Illinois vs. Penn State money line: Penn State -287, Illinois +230
  • Illini: The Fighting Illini are 4-3 against the spread in the last seven games
  • PSU: The Nittany Lions are 16-8-1 against the spread this season

Why Illinois can cover

The model has considered that Illinois has strengths to build on, including the fact that the visitors boast an above-average offense. Illinois is an elite offensive rebounding team, grabbing 36.3 percent of their own misses this season, and that is an area in which Penn State could be vulnerable. 

On the other end, Illinois is also strong, keeping opponents off the free-throw line at an impressive rate. When Penn State does create free-throw attempts, the Nittany Lions struggle to convert them, making less than 70 percent, and Illinois is exceptional at closing possessions with defensive rebounding.

Why Penn State can cover

Even so, the there's no guarantee the Illini will cover the Penn State vs. Illinois spread. The model also has considered that Penn State has been fantastic lately, with an eight-game winning streak and a home record that features only one loss this season. The Nittany Lions rank in the top 20 nationally on both ends of the floor, including an offense that excels in taking care of the ball. Penn State turns the ball over on only 16.4 percent of possessions and, against an Illinois team that rarely creates havoc, that is a massive advantage. 

On the defensive side, Penn State is elite, with top-50 rankings in both block and steal rates and quality metrics in defending the shooting of their opponents. Illinois has well-documented struggles in 3-point shooting, making only 30.4 percent of their long-range efforts.

How to make Penn State vs. Illinois picks

SportsLine's model is leaning under on the total, with Penn State's Lamar Stevens and Illinois center Kofi Cockburn projected to score more than 11 points in the simulations. The model also says one side of the spread hits in almost 60 percent of simulations.

So who wins Illinois vs. Penn State? And which side of the spread hits in almost 60 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Penn State vs. Illinois spread you need to jump on Tuesday, all from the model that has crushed its college basketball picks, and find out. 

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