College Basketball Betting Picks: Illinois Fighting Illini at #7 Michigan Wolverines

Illinois Fighting Illini at #7 Michigan Wolverines
Sunday, February 24, 2013, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Crisler Center – Ann Arbor, Michigan
Opening Line: Michigan -11 1/2
Current Line: Michigan -11
Opening Total: 138
Current Total: 137
Opening Money Line: Michigan -700 / Illinois +550
Current Money Line: Michigan -600 / Illinois +475

Michigan is an 11 point favorite at home against Illinois Sunday.
Michigan is an 11 point favorite at home against Illinois Sunday.

The Michigan Wolverines are 22-4 this season and 9-4 in the Big Ten. The Wolverines are 2.5 games behind first place Indiana (12-2) in the conference with only 4 games left in the regular season. Michigan is also behind 11-3 Michigan St and 10-4 Wisconsin. The Wolverines will host 20-8 Illinois Sunday. The Fighting Illini are 7-7 in the Big Ten having won 5 straight games.

Illinois leads the series 85-75, but Michigan is 48-29 all time against Illinois in Ann Arbor. Michigan has won 4 straight in the series, including 74-60 January 27 in Champaign.

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 . Illinois has key wins at Hawaii, Gonzaga, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Northwestern, against USC and Butler in the Maui Invitational (a tournament the Illini won),  and home wins over Georgia Tech, Auburn, Ohio St, Indiana, and Purdue, and Penn St 64-59 Thursday. Illinois is 11-13 ATS and the total is 10-12 this season.

Illinois is outscoring teams 71-65 this season. The Illini are shooting 42.8% from the field and 33.1% from 3 point range. Illinois makes 71.6% of their free throws. The Illini average 34.2 rebounds per game, and give up 31.1. Illini opponents are shooting 42% from the field and 34.4% from 3 point range. Illinois averages 11 assists, 7 steals, 4 blocks, and 12 turnovers a game.

Guard Brandon Paul averages 16.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Guard D.J. Richardson averages 12.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Guard Tracy Abrams averages 10.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Guard Joseph Bertrand averages 8.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1 steal a game. Forward Tyler Griffey averages 7.3 points and 3.5 rebounds. Forward/center Nnanna Egwu averages 6.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. Sam McLaurin and Myke Henry also get time in the rotation, but no other Illini player averages more than 4.4 points a game.

Michigan is coached by John Beilein. After a 20-1 start, Michigan has lost three of their last five games at Indiana,  Wisconsin and Michigan St. The Wolverines also have a loss at Ohio St. All of the Wolverine losses came to the 4 other conference leaders. Michigan has key home wins over Cleveland State, North Carolina State, Arkansas, Western, Central, and Eastern Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue, Northwestern, Ohio St and Penn St last Sunday 79-71. The Wolverines also have wins over Pittsburgh and Kansas St in a tournament in New York City, West Virginia in Brooklyn, and at Bradley, Northwestern, Minnesota, and Illinois. Michigan is 12-11-1 ATS this season and total is 15-9 this season.

Michigan is outscoring teams 76-61 this season. The Wolverines are #20 in scoring and #60 in points allowed. Michigan is shooting 49.3% from the field and 40.1% from 3 point range. The Wolverines are in the top 10 nationally in both categories. Michigan makes 70.7% from the free throw line. Michigan averages 35.8 rebounds per game and gives up 28.7 per game. Michigan opponents are shooting 41.7% from the field and 32.1% from 3 point range. The Wolverines are averaging 15 assists, 6 steals, 3 blocks and 9 turnovers.

Michigan guards Trey Burke averages 18.6 points, 6.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. Guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. averages 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. Guard Nik Stauskas averages 12.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. Forward Glenn Robinson III averages 11.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game. Forward Mitch McGary averages 6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1 steal and 0.7 blocks a game to lead the team. Forward Jordan Morgan averages 5.4 points and 4.5 rebounds.  Caris LaVert and Jon Horford also get significant minutes.

Illinois is 4-0 ATS in road games, and against teams with winning home records, 4-1 against teams with winning records, in Big Ten games, and overall, and 3-11 in Sunday games. The under is 6-2 in this series recently.

Michigan is 5-1 ATS against teams with winning road records, 1-3-1 at home, 0-4 after failing to cover, and against teams with winning records, 0-5 in Big ten games, and overall. The Wolverines have covered the last 5 against the Illini, and 11 of the last 12 in Ann Arbor. The home team is 19-6 ATS in this series recently.

Illinois has been red hot recently during their 5 game winning streak but the Crisler Center is tough for opponents to pull off the win. Michigan needs a win to keep pace with Wiscconsin in the conference race. Illinois is playing more to solidify their spot in the NCAA tournament. I like the Illini to keep it within the 11 point number, but Michigan escapes with a narrow win.

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