College Basketball Odds: Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

No. 18 Gonzaga Bulldogs at Illinois Fighting Illini
Saturday, 12/3/11, 3:15 PM EST, TV:  ESPN2
Opening Point Spread:  Illinois -2.5
Current Betting Line:  Illinois -2.5
Opening Total:  134
Current Total:  134
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Gonzaga Bulldogs are led offensively by Robert Sacre in the middle

Gonzaga meets up with Illinois for the third contest in the current four-year agreement, looking for revenge from a 73-61 loss as 1.5-point underdogs on Dec. 4, 2010 last year.   The Bulldogs have had a pretty easy time of it schedule wise, capturing their last three games by an average of 19.7 points.  “It’s time to get into tougher non-conference games and let’s see what happens,” stated Bulldogs coach Mark Few.  The team has three players averaging in double digits led by senior center Robert Sacre, who is scoring 16.6 points a night.  Gonzaga is 13-7 ATS on the road the last two-plus years.

The Bulldogs are coming off an impressive 73-53 win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as 11.5-point home favorites inside the McCarthey Athletic Center.  Four of Gonzaga’s players scored in double figures.  Gonzaga has trailed a total of 8:41 this season, coming off a 25-10 campaign of a year ago.  Sacre is the main offensive threat, but junior forward Elias Harris is a major player in averaging 11.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.

Illinois is 7-0 for the first time since the 2006-07 season and its current winning streak is the program’s longest since winning seven-straight from Nov. 19-Dec. 12 of last year.  The Fighting Illini will be hosting their highest ranked non-conference opponent inside Assembly Hall since 2004.  “With some early success here, we have a chance to see what we are really about,” commented Fighting Illini head coach Bruce Weber.  Illinois tallied a 71-62 win over Maryland in its Big Ten/ACC Challenge contest last time out as 4.5-point road favorites.  In the past two-plus years, the program is 5-8 ATS in December.

The Fighting Illini carry in a 22-game regular season non-conference winning streak at the Assembly Hall.  Illinois has been crashing the boards for most of the season, owning a +7.7 rebounding margin, while averaging 8.2 second-chance points a contest.  Sam Maniscalco leads the team in scoring 13.3 points per game and is shooting 55 percent from the field.  He has managed to score in double figures in four of the last five games.  On the defensive end, Illinois is leading Big Ten teams and rank 11th nationally in recording 6.7 blocks per game.

Bettors will likely back the Fighting Illini due to their 4-1 ATS mark at home, while the Bulldogs are 3-12-1 ATS when playing on the road after three or more consecutive home games.

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