Illinois vs. Michigan: NCAA Basketball Picks and Predictions

profile image of Jason.Lake
Illinois vs. Michigan: NCAA Basketball Picks and Predictions
Andre Curbelo #5 of the Illinois Fighting Illini dunks the ball. Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP

The Big Ten’s best meet this Tuesday when the Michigan Wolverines host the Illinois Fighting Illini. So, which team are we going to put in our college basketball picks? BetOnline have opened Michigan (18-1 SU, 15-4 ATS) as 8-point home faves, which seems like a lot given how well Illinois (18-6 SU, 14-9-1 ATS) have played this year. Looks like we’ll have to dig deep, peel back the layers, and yes, do a little math. Strap in.

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Michigan Wolverines

Tuesday, March 02, 2021 – 07:00 PM EST at Crisler Center

How good is the Big Ten? Real damn good. According to Sports Reference, the Big Ten is the best conference in Division I college basketball this year – and it’s not even close. In fact, at plus-16.61 on the Simple Rating System, the 2020-21 Big Ten is the best conference we’ve seen in four years. They’ve got six ranked teams heading into the final week of the regular season; that includes the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines and the No. 4 Illinois Fighting Illini, who will meet this Tuesday in Ann Arbor for what should be a hell of a game.

Large Margins Sent Me

As usual, we start with the tale of the tape. Here are Ken Pomeroy’s advanced stats at press time for our two combatants: Illinois: No. 6 overall (No. 10 offense, No. 17 defense), plus-27.37 margin Michigan: No. 2 overall (No. 5 offense, No. 4 defense), plus-33.92 margin

Those are some big-ass efficiency margins right there. And as expected, the Wolverines come out overpriced when we do the math. Take their 6.55-point advantage per 100 possessions, multiply by 69 percent (nice) to reflect how many possessions they’re likely to get in on Tuesday, add 2.08 points (as per Jeff Sagarin) for home court, garnish with lemon peel, and voila: Michigan –6.5995. Not quite enough for a chunky bet, but definitely a lean towards the underdogs.

Best Sportsbooks Banner

A Nose For Value

If you’re looking for something with a bit more potential profit margin, there’s always the total – but maybe not in this case. While both these Big Ten behemoths have been beating the NCAAB lines, Michigan have the Under at 11-8 thus far, and Illinois have the Over at 14-9-1. This is, in part, a reflection of how these two teams operate. The Wolverines rank No. 227 overall in Adjusted Tempo, according to the Pomeroy charts, and the Illini rank No. 72 overall, getting in 3.3 more possessions per game on average. Before we go unloading the piggy bank on Illinois, let’s remember that there’s only about a 1.5-point gap between our Pomeroy-assisted projection and the actual college basketball odds. As a rule of thumb, we want at least two points before investing anything serious on the sharp side.

Plus, there’s a non-zero chance that one of Illinois’ best players, junior guard Ayo Dosunmu (plus-10.1 BPM), will miss Tuesday’s game with a broken nose that he suffered last week at the hands – and forearms – of Michigan State. Dosunmu missed the next two games, but the deep and talented Illini won both SU and ATS, so let’s stick with them for a small sum, and may the sphere be with you.

NCAAB Pick: Illinois +8 (–110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

Illinois +8 (–110)
Visit Site

*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.