NCAA Basketball Pick: Wisconsin-Milwaukee vs. Illinois-Chicago

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 16, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

The Illinois-Chicago Flames are looking to snap a six-game losing streak and win their first Horizon League game of the year when they host Wisconsin-Milwaukee Thursday.

Despite a six-game losing streak, the small home underdog could be dangerous Thursday night when the Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers (12-6, 5-3 away) pay a visit to the Illinois-Chicago Flames (5-12, 2-5 home) at UIC Pavilion in Chicago, IL at 8:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.

The point spread at Bet365 has Illinois-Chicago as a tiny home underdog for this contest with the current line at +1 with odds of -110.

Milwaukee is coming off of a disappointing overtime loss at home to Green Bay where the Panthers blew a nine-point second half lead, and they now start a three-game road trip over a seemingly easy opponent. However, Milwaukee could have an eye in the two seemingly tougher road games coming up vs. Valparaiso and Wright State, which would be a mistake even against the struggling Flames.

UIC was actually competitive at Wright State Sunday before falling 58-53, and the Flames could potentially build in that performance coming home here as they seek to become the last Horizon League team to win its first conference game this year.

Illinois-Chicago won 18 games last season and the Flames even won a game in the CIT before losing at Northern Iowa, but it has been much more of a struggle so far this season although the Flames may have turned a corner vs. Wright State, especially defensively as they held the Raiders to just 34.0 percent shooting.

This is a team ranked just 299th in the country in defensive efficiency overall, but the Flames are a good defensive rebounding team ranked an excellent 33rd nationally in that category, and UIC can potentially dominate the glass in this contest vs. the poor rebounding Panthers. Thus, the Flames should have a big edge in second chance opportunities, and if they can convert those chances they may very well get that elusive first Horizon win.

Yes, Milwaukee is 12-6, but the Panthers have not been particularly impressive while ranking 148th in offensive efficiency, 189th in defensive efficiency and taking advantage of a 166th ranked SOS. Now we get the Illinois-Chicago is probably on the same level as most of the teams that the Panthers have faced over that weak schedule, and they are probably the better team here, but can they really be trusted as road favorites?

We certainly do not think so, especially since they will have a tough time blocking out the UIC rebounders while ranking a dismal 234th in offensive rebounding percentage and an even worse 320th in defensive rebounding percentage. Furthermore, the Panthers are also very sloppy with the basketball ranking just 269th on offensive turnover percentage at 20.1 percent vs. the national average of 18.5 percent.

Those numbers do not exude confidence in a road favorite, so we are looking for a mild upset as Illinois-Chicago gets its first conference win of the year on Thursday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Illinois-Chicago +1 (-110)

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