Illinois vs. Missouri NCAA Basketball Picks: Lay The Points In Border Rivalry Battle

Darin Zank

Wednesday, December 23, 2015 4:07 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015 4:07 PM UTC

Illinois has taken the last two border rivalry battles with Missouri, & shoots to make it three in a row in St. Louis Wednesday night. What is the smart NCAA basketball pick?

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Illinois -5; Under 145
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


Illinois-Missouri: The Odds
Most of Wednesday's NCAA Basketball odds market opened this game with Illinois favored by five points, the total offered at 145, and both those figures were holding steady in the early betting.

Missouri, meanwhile, could be found getting +190 on the college basketball moneyline at GTBets.


The Situation
Illinois (7-5 SU, 4-4-2 ATS) has won four games in a row, after dispatching of South Dakota Saturday 91-79. The Illini led that game by 20 early in the second half, allowed the Coyotes to pull within six points with about four minutes to go, but pulled away from there and covered at -10.

On the day Illinois is shooting 48 percent from the field, helped along by a 14-for-30 performance from 3-point range.

Eleven days ago the Illini held off Illinois-Chicago 83-79 but came up way short of covering at -18; just before that they beat Yale 69-65 but only pushed the spread at -4; and just before that, they beat Western Carolina 80-68 but pushed at -12.

Bigger-picture, Illinois looks headed for another middle-of-the-pack finish in the Big 10 this season, and getting back to the NCAA tournament, after missing it the last two seasons, appears an iffy proposition.

Missouri (5-5 SU, 6-3 ATS) has lost two in a row, after falling at home to North Carolina State last Saturday 73-59. The Tigers led the Wolfpack by a point early in the second half, but got outscored from there 43-28, whiffing on the spread as four-point home dogs. On the night, Mizzou shot 43 percent from the floor, but hit just eight-of-19 free-throws, got outscored from the line 24-8 and lost the battle on the boards 41-29.

Ten days ago the Tigers got tossed at Arizona 88-52, missing ATS at +16.

Bigger-picture, we've got this young Mizzou outfit pegged for a bottom-four finish in the SEC this season, its second under the current coaching regime.


Mizzou-Illini Recent History
These teams meet every season for a border battle. Illinois has taken the last two meetings, by scores of 65-64 and 62-59. But Mizzou covered last season as a nine-point dog.


Tigers-Illini Totals Trends
Missouri is 6-3 on the OVERS this season, as Tigers games have averaged 141 points.

Illinois is 5-5 on the totals, as Illini games have averaged 152 points.


Injury Update
Illinois took a hit three weeks ago when C Mike Thorne (13 points, eight boards per game this season) suffered a season-ending knee injury. Since he went down, though, the Illini have managed to go 4-1 SU, but 1-2-2 ATS.


Final Analysis
Missouri is 0-5 SU, 2-3 ATS against major conference opponents this season, with four of those losses coming by double digits. Illinois is 0-3 SU, 1-2 ATS against big-time foes this season, but one of those losses came by a point to Providence, another by five against Notre Dame. We like the Illini for our NCAA basketball pick on the side in this contest. Also, Mizzou is having trouble throwing the ball in the hole as of late, scoring just 59 and 52 points in its last two games. So, we're thinking UNDER for tonight's picks.

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