NCAA Basketball Picks: Minnesota vs. Illinois

Steven Suarez

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 3:38 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 3:38 PM GMT

A tasty Big Ten extravaganza tips off tonight, with Illinois playing the role of hosts against an experience Minnesota team. What are the NCAA Basketball odds looking like for this game?

Odds Overview

The Fighting Illini are hosting tonight's Big Ten showdown, but it's the Golden Gophers that are holding the favorites tag. However, the NCAA basketball betting lines have only given them the advantage by 1.5 points.

If you feel more comfortable with a total play, you can find the O/U at 141.5. For the record, the OVER has gone 5-1 in Minnesota's last six road matchups. Will that trend hold true again tonight?

[gameodds]14/194675/19-43-1096-198-238/us[/gameodds]

Minnesota Golden Gophers

The Golden Gophers have lost just one game this season and that was against #1 Duke. They've reeled off 10 straight victories since that tournament defeat.

A few days ago Minnesota was in action at home against Northwestern. As is typically the case with Tubby Smith's team, they dominated the glass (45-20) in the 69-51 victory.

Individually, Austin Hollins got hot and hit five threes on his way to a game-high 19 points. Trevor Mbakwe provided his usual high energy, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking four shots in the win. 

Mbakwe's return has been a huge emotional boost for the Golden Gophers, while Rodney Williams (12.9 PPG and 6.0 RPG) has been highly effective on both ends of the court. As a team, Minnesota ranks #19 in rebounding and #27 in assists.

Minnesota has been on a straight roll against the spread as well. They've covered against the spread in eight consecutive road games and are 16-5-1 ATS over their last 22 games overall dating back to last year. 

Illinois Fighting Illini 

We've entered conference play and the Fighting Illini have already experience highs and lows. They lost 68-61 in their Big Ten opener against Purdue, but came back and topped Ohio State 74-55 over the weekend.

It was a masterful performance from Illinois on both ends of the floor. They shot 48.3 percent from the field and held the Buckeyes to 33.3 percent shooting.

Four different players reached double figures. Brandon Paul made the biggest difference, as always, scoring 19 points to go along with seven rebounds an thee assists. Nnanna Egwu, Tracy Abrams and Joseph Bertrand were the other three double-digit scorers. 

Already this season the Fighting Illini have notched some impressive wins. They beat an excellent Butler team by 17 in late November and have also beaten Gonzaga by double digits. Losing to Missouri is hardly the worst thing in the world. 

That said, the Fighting Illini will be looking to end a streak in which they've gone just 1-4 ATS over their previous five appearances. Days after blowing out Ohio State, can they put in a repeat performance in front of their fans? 

College Basketball Pick 

As good as the Golden Gophers have looked this season, they haven't been truly tested on the road yet, at least like they will be tonight. 

Minnesota's home-court advantage is no joke, but we want to see them dominate away from home before making any wild claims.

That's why we believe Illinois represents good value for our NCAA Basketball picks tonight. It's not often you see a team as good as the Fighting Illini listed as underdogs on their own floor.

We're on the lookout for a big game from Paul en route to a cover for Illinois.

NCAAB Pick: Minnesota Golden Gophers ML +110

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