Big Ten Betting Preview: Illinois Fighting Illini at Northwestern Wildcats

Illinois Fighting Illini at Northwestern Wildcats
Sunday, February 17, 2013, 7:30 pm Eastern, TV: Big Ten Network
Welsh-Ryan Arena – Evanston, Illinois
Opening Line: Illinois -2 1/2
Current Line: Illinois -3
Opening Total: 130
Current Total: 129 1/2
Opening Money Line: Illinois -175 / Northwestern +155
Current Money Line: Illinois -160 / Northwestern +140

Illinois travels to rival Northwestern in a key Big Ten match-up. The Illini are 3 point road favorites.
Illinois travels to rival Northwestern in a key Big Ten match-up. The Illini are 3 point road favorites.

The 18-8 Illinois Fighting Illini have won 3 straight games to improve to 5-7 in the Big Ten. The Illini are tied with Iowa for sixth in the conference. Illinois travels to rival Northwestern Sunday. The Wildcats are 13-12 this season, and 4-8 in the Big Ten. The Wildcats are 10th in the conference ahead of only Nebraska and Penn St.

Illinois has dominated their in-state rival. The Illini lead the series 129-38, including 59-24 in Evanston. Northwestern has won 2 straight in the series, including 68-54 in Champaign last month. Northwestern was never threatened in that game after  they took an early 21-12 lead. Illinois pulled to within 48-39 with just under five minutes to go in the game, but wouldn’t get any closer.

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, and Minnesota, 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 Wednesday 79-59. Illinois is 10-12 ATS and the total is 10-10 this season.

Illinois is outscoring teams 72-66 this season. The Illini are shooting 42.8% from the field and 33.3% from 3 point range. Illinois makes 72.8% of their free throws. The Illini average 34.4 rebounds per game, and give up 31.6. Illini opponents are shooting 42.6% from the field and 35% from 3 point range. Illinois averages 11 assists, 7 steals, 4 blocks, and 12 turnovers a game.

Guard Brandon Paul averages 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Guard D.J. Richardson averages 12.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Guard Tracy Abrams averages 10.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Guard Joseph Bertrand averages 8.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1 steal a game. Forward Tyler Griffey averages 7.6 points and 3.5 rebounds. Forward/center Nnanna Egwu averages 6.5 points, 4.7 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 3.3 points a game.

Northwestern is coached by Bill Carmody. The Wildcats have losses to Maryland, Illinois-Chicago, Butler, Stanford, Michigan, at Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, at Nebraska, at Michigan, at Iowa, and Ohio St Thursday 69-59. Northwestern has key wins over TCU and Illinois St in a tournament in South Padre Island, Texas, at Baylor, Brown, at Penn St, at Illinois, Minnesota, and Purdue. The Wildcats are 12-10 ATS and and the total is 9-8-1 this season.

Northwestern is outscoring teams 63-62 this season. The Wildcats are shooting 41.7% from the field and 35.4% from 3 point range. Northwestern makes 66% of their free throws. The Wildcats average 31.7 rebounds per game and give up 33.4 per game. Northwestern opponents are shooting 41.7% from the field and 33.7% from 3 point range. The Wildcats average 15 assists, 6 steals, 3 blocks, and 11 turnovers.

Forward Jared Swopshire and guards Sanjay Lumpkin, JerShon Cobb, and Drew Crawford are all out for the season for the Wildcats. Center Alex Olah is questionable with a concussion. Guard Reggie Hearn is probable with an ankle injury Lumpkin and Cobb are role players, but the others are 4 of the top 6 scorers for the Wildcats. Hearn averages 14.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game. Dave Sobelewski averages 10.9 points, 4.1 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and a steal. Tre Demps averages 7.1 points and 1.7 rebounds. Olah averages 6.1 points, 4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1 block per game. Kale Abrahamson, Alex Marcotullio, and Mike Turner also get significant minutes.

Illinois is 4-1 ATS overall, and in Big Ten games, 5-12 in road games, 5-12 in road games, and against teams with winning home records, 2-5 after a straight up win, 6-15 after a cover, and 7-19 in Sunday games. The over is 5-2 in this series recently. The road team is 4-0 ATS in this series in the last 4.

Northwestern is 5-1 ATS after a straight up loss,  5-2 at home, and against teams with winning records. The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 games in this series.

Northwestern has so many injuries right now, but they still gave Ohio St a tough game on the road Thursday. The Wildcats are a tough and gritty team, but Illinois is playing some of their best basketball of the season.  I like Illinois to win a close game on the road.

Our college basketball handicappers are crushing the bookies this year. Don’t miss out on anymore winners.



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