NCAA Basketball Picks for Illinois vs. Michigan

Ross Benjamin

Thursday, March 13, 2014 9:49 PM GMT

The Big 10 Tournament quarterfinals gets underway on Friday at Noon ET with the game between #1 seed Michigan (23-7) and the #8 seed Illinois (19-13). We look at the current NCAA Basketball odds to determine if sports bettors should give this game a look.

According to college basketball betting odds Michigan is a 7.0 point favorite and the total is 124.0. These teams have seen 7 of their last 10 meetings go under the total. Michigan has covered the last 7-games versus Illinois.

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Needing to Break the Wolverine Hex 

Illinois hasn’t only failed to cover their last 7-games versus Michigan, but they’re also 0-6 SU&ATS in the last 6, and lost those 6 contests by an average of 13.8 points per game. They faced the Wolverines once this season just 10-days ago, and were crushed 84-53 on their home floor. Illinois had entered the Michigan game having allowed 49-points or less in each of their previous 4-games. The Wolverines eclipsed that number before the end of the half, and went to the locker room with a huge 52-30 lead at the break. It also marked the only time that Illinois has gone over the total in their last 9-games. The Wolverines shot a sizzling 56.9% from the field in that contest, and were an incredible 16-23 (69.6%) from the 3-point line. Illinois didn’t help themselves by shooting a poor 38.5% from the field, and an awful 2-18 from beyond the three-point stripe.

Impressive Opening Round Win

Illinois passed their first test in the conference tournament by easily defeating Indiana 64-54, and covered easily as a 2.0 point underdog. The game also went under the total of 129. Illinois held the Hoosiers to 35.3% shooting from the field, and forced 16 Indiana turnovers. Junior 6’2 guard Trace Abrams had a monster game for the winners by scoring 25-points, and adding 7 rebounds. Both of those figures more than doubled his season totals averages. Illinois helped themselves out immensely at the free throw line as well by converting 18 of their 22 attempts (81.8%) on the day. 

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Going for a Clean Big Championship Sweep

Michigan enters the conference tournament as the Big 10 regular season champions. They finished the conference schedule by going 15-3, good for 3.0 games better than both Wisconsin and Michigan State who finished tied for 2nd. The Wolverines finished the regular season slate by winning their last 5, and scored 77-points or more in 4 of those 5-games. The Wolverines are one of the best shooting teams in the country making a terrific 48% of their field goal attempts which ranks 21st nationally. Michigan is also #10 in the nation from beyond the three point line converting an outstanding 39.7% of their attempts. 

Red-Hot Nik Stauskas 

The Wolverines 6’6 sophomore guard Nik Stauskas leads the team in scoring averaging 17.4 points per game. However, he’s been absolutely on fire over his last 5-games averaging 21.2 points per contest over that span. In the recent 84-53 win over Illinois he went for 24-points, and was a remarkable 7-9 from beyond the 3-point line. His 3-point prowess is nothing new. In his 2 seasons at Michigan the Canadian born Stauskas has gone 151/337 (44.8%) from down town. If Illinois is to have any chance in this game, they must know where this sharp shooter is at all times.

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Final Analysis

The good news for the underdog Illinois team is the fact they enter today having won 5 of their last 6. The bad news is that they’re playing a team that’s on an even better roll, and the sole defeat they suffered down the stretch, was a 31-point shellacking by this same Michigan club. Michigan will also have the advantage of not having played since last Saturday’s 84-80 win at home over Indiana, while Illinois had to paly on 1st round game on Thursday.

Free Pick: Michigan -7.0 over Illinois