NCAA Basketball Picks: Michigan vs. Illinois -6.5

Jeff Grant

Thursday, February 12, 2015 2:48 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 2:48 PM UTC

A pair of sophomores have emerged on the scene at Illinois, which makes it a top NCAA basketball pick in gaining revenge against Michigan Thursday night.

Trending Upward
Second-year players Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn are accounting for 52.9 percent of Illinois’ scoring over the last nine games, as the program aims for its first four-game win streak in Big Ten Conference play since 2013.

The Fighting Illini are looking to avenge a 73-65 overtime setback to the Wolverines as three-point road underdogs on Dec. 30, with Hill and Nunn combining for just 22 points in that affair.

Expect a far different performance from the conference’s highest scoring duo during league play at 31.3 points a contest.


Key Injuries
Michigan has won eight straight games in this series, but it’ll play without the services of Caris Levert (foot) and Derrick Walton Jr. (ankle)—a pair that averaged a combined 24.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists; which you can't ignore when looking at the NCAA basketball odds.

The Wolverines are suffering through a disappointing season due to ranking 119th in offensive efficiency, which is far different than leading the nation in that all-important statistical category just 12 months ago.

Sports bettors will find that the school is 5-8 SU and 5-7-1 ATS versus teams that allow 64 or fewer points per game.

Boost Your Thursday's Picks With This Trio of NCAA Basketball Picks

Getting Defensive
In five of their six conference wins in 2014-15, the Fighting Illini have held their opponents to 58 points or less—a number that can be achieved at the State Farm Center Thursday due to limiting the Wolverines to 40.9 percent shooting in the first meeting.

Illinois has the ability to limit Michigan to just a single shot on each offensive possession, as it ranks 51st in defensive rebounding percentage, while it has also demonstrated a great ability to keep opponents off the free throw line.


A Bad Month
The Wolverines have lost a considerable amount of talent in recent years to the NBA Draft, which means it’ll be even more difficult to turn around their disappointing 7-10 SU and 6-11 ATS record in February since 2012-13.

Michigan’s shortened rotation due to injuries is going to find it difficult to score offensively, as Illinois limits foes to 38.3 percent from the floor when playing at home.


The Fighting Illini are 38-3 when shooting the same or better percentage from the floor than their opponents during the John Groce era, which will lead to a double-digit victory.

Illinois improves to 3-0 SUATS as home favorites of 6.5 to 9 points in its last three opportunities, so back them up with your college basketball picks.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini -6.5 at Bookmaker

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