Big Ten Basketball Picks: #1 Indiana Hoosiers at Illinois Fighting Illini
#1 Indiana Hoosiers at Illinois Fighting Illini
Thursday, February 7, 2013, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Assembly Hall – Champaign, Illinois
Opening Line: Indiana -8
Current Line: Indiana -7 (-115)
Opening Total: 147 1/2
Current Total: 149
Opening Money Line: Indiana -335 / Illinois +285
Current Money Line: Indiana -335 / Illinois +285
The 20-2 Indiana Hoosiers reclaimed the #1 ranking they held earlier in the year with their hard fought home victory over then #1 Michigan Saturday 81-73. Normally being #1 would be a good thing even if it is just February. However, for the past 5 weeks, the #1 team has lost and only stayed #1 for a week. The Hoosiers look to reverse that trend, but it won’t be easy. The Hoosiers have tough road games at Illinois Thursday night and Ohio St Sunday. Indiana leads the Big Ten (widely considered the best conference in the country) with an 8-1 record. Indiana leads 8-2 Michigan and Michigan St by a half game.
The Illinois Fighting Illini are 15-8 this season but 2-7 in the Big Ten. The Illini went through the non-conference schedule with a 13-1 record and at one point were ranked in the top 10. However, the wheels came off the Illini bandwagon once Big Ten play started. Illinois has lost 3 straight games and 6 of their last 7 games. Once considered a lock for the NCAA tournament, the Illini now find themselves on the bubble.
Indiana leads the series 84-83 against Illinois, but the Illini are 49-31 against the Hoosiers in Champaign. Illinois has won 10 of the last 11 in the series at home, including 3 in a row. Indiana won the only meeting last year 84-71 in Bloomington. This is the only scheduled meeting between the schools this season unless they meet in the postseason.
Indiana is coached by Tom Crean. The only losses came to Butler by 2 points in overtime in Indianapolis and at home to Wisconsin. The Hoosiers have won 5 straight games. Indiana has key wins over Georgia & Georgetown in a tournament in Brooklyn, Ball St, North Carolina, Minnesota, Penn St, and Michigan St, along with road wins at Iowa, Penn St, Northwestern and Purdue. The Hoosiers are 11-9 ATS and the total is 10-8 this season.
Indiana is outscoring teams 84-61 this season. The Hoosiers are second in the nation in scoring. Indiana shoots 50.1% from the field and 42.2% from 3 point range. The Hoosiers are 6th or better in the country in both categories. Indiana makes 74.1% of their free throws. The Hoosiers average 40.2 rebounds per game and give up 25.7 per game. Indiana is in the top 15 in both categories. Hoosier opponents are shooting 37.7% from the field and 30.9% from 3 point range. Indiana is #16 in opponent’s field goal percentage.The Hoosiers average 16 assists, 8 steals, 4 blocks, and 13 turnovers.
Forward Cody Zeller averages 16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Guard Victor Oladipo averages 14.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals, and 2.3 assists. Forward Christian Watford averages 12.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Guard Jordan Hulls averages 11.1 points, 3.3 assists, 2.6 rebounds, and 1 steal per game. Forward Will Sheehey averages 9.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1 steal per game. Kevin Ferrell, Remy Abell, and Jeremy Hollowell also get significant minutes. Forward Austin Etherington (knee) is out indefinitely.
Illinois is coached by John Groce, in his first year. The Illini have losses to Missouri in St. Louis, road losses at Purdue, Wisconsin, and Michigan St, along with home losses to Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan and Wisconsin Sunday 74-68. Illinois has key wins at Hawaii, Gonzaga, and Nebraska, against USC and Butler in the Maui Invitational (a tournament the Illini won), and home wins over Georgia Tech, Auburn and Ohio St. Illinois is 7-12 ATS and the total is 9-8 this season.
Illinois is outscoring teams 72-67 this season. The Illini are shooting 43% from the field and 32.8% from 3 point range. Illinois makes 71.8% of their free throws. The Illini average 34.7 rebounds per game, and give up 31.7. Illini opponents are shooting 42.6% from the field and 34.4% from 3 point range. Illinois averages 11 assists, 8 steals, 4 blocks, and 12 turnovers a game.
Guard Brandon Paul averages 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Guard D.J. Richardson averages 11.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Guard Tracy Abrams averages 11.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Guard Joseph Bertrand averages 8.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1 steal a game. Forward Tyler Griffey averages 6.7 points and 3.1 rebounds. Forward/center Nnanna Egwu averages 6.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. Sam McLaurin and Myke Henry also get time in the rotation, but no other Illini player averages more than 4 points a game.
Indiana is 5-0 ATS in Thursday games, 2-5 overall, and in Big Ten games. The under is 10-3-1 in the last 14 in this series. The Hoosiers are 4-1 ATS in the last 5 in this series.
Illinois is 2-5 ATS against teams with winning records, 7-19 in Thursday games, 4-11 after a straight up loss, 7-20 in Big Ten games, 3-9 overall, 0-4 at home, and against teams with winning road records. The home team is 4-1 ATS in this series recently.
Although Assembly Hall in Champaign has been a house of horrors for Indiana recently, The Hoosiers certainly have the talent to win on the road against a reeling Illinois team. Maybe the strong start for Illinois could be attributed to a semi-soft non-conference schedule, but they did win the prestigious Maui Invitational and won at Gonzaga a top 10 team. The Maui field wasn’t as strong as predicted because schools such as North Carolina, Texas, USC and Mississippi St are all going through rebuilding years. Still it is puzzling why Illinois has been so bad in Big Ten play. They haven’t had any serious injuries. I like Indiana to win, but Illinois keeps it close.
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