The Illinois Fighting Illini squeaked by in Thursday’s Big Ten Tournament action with a 51-49 victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers, cashing as three-point underdogs. Friday’s quarterfinal-round opener has Illinois back on the United Center’s floor against the top-seeded Indiana Hoosiers, who logged a 3-1 spread record in their last four road spots of the regular season.
Illini, Paul get past Minny
Illinois saw a 25-16 halftime lead erased in Thursday’s victory, rallying with a 7-2 run in the battle’s final six minutes for the victory. Illini guard Brandon Paul capped off the stretch with a game-winning jumper, finishing with a team-high 25 points.
Paul united with mate Nnanna Egwu for 11 boards, with Egwu adding two of his squad’s five blocks. Illinois was held to 32.1 percent field shooting, while outrebounded by a margin of 36-24.
The matchup’s combined 100 points plunged beneath the ‘total’ of 126 ½, moving the UNDER to 6-1 in Illinois’ last seven games. Paul drilled 4-of-8 buckets beyond the arc, while the Illini sank 9-of-10 free throws.
Hoosiers, Zeller prevail in Ann Arbor
Indiana ended its regular season with Sunday’s 72-71 win over the Michigan Wolverines, collecting as a 1 ½-point road dog. Hoosiers forward Cody Zeller notched ended the contest with a stretch of six unanswered points, including a go-ahead layup with 14 seconds remaining.
Zeller finished with his second double-double in three games, coming away with 25 points and 10 boards. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Kevin Ferrell logged three assists each, while mates Jordan Hulls and Will Sheehey united to drain 5-of-11 shots from three-point land.
The battle’s 143 points ducked below the ‘total’ of 147, moving the UNDER to 5-2 in the Hoosiers’ last seven affairs. Indiana sizably edged the Wolverines in rebounds, 47-26, while both sides combined to hit 12-of-22 free throws.
Back the Hoosiers as ‘chalk’
The NCAA Basketball odds makers at 5Dimes.eu opened Indiana as a nine-point favorite, with early sports betting action on the Hoosiers lifting the number a ‘hook’ to 9 ½. The winning squad advances to Saturday’s semifinal round, facing either the Michigan Wolverines or Wisconsin Badgers.
For tonight's NCAA Basketball picks, I am laying the points here with Indiana, looking for a solid return to the hardwood after four days off. The Hoosiers also have a revenge factor after last month’s 74-72 defeat to Illinois, blowing a 12-point halftime lead.
Indiana found the rims at a sizable 50 percent from the floor on that occasion, including a 9-for-17 mark beyond the arc. Zeller and three of his mates reached double figures, while out-rebounding the Illini, 28-21.
Illinois is 0-2 ATS in its last pair of spots as an underdog of nine points or more, failing to cash against Ohio State and Michigan. The Illini were held to 56.5 PPG in those duels, shooting a combined 38.1 percent from the floor over the two contests.
Look for Illinois to fall flat again here, while the Hoosiers put up a statement win by double digits.NCAA Basketball Pick: Indiana Hoosiers -9 ½ (5Dimes.eu)