College Basketball Predictions: Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Wisconsin Badgers

No. 12 Illinois Fighting Illini at Wisconsin Badgers
Saturday, 1/12/12, 2:15 PM EST, TV:  Big Ten Network
Opening Point Spread:  Wisconsin -6.5
Current Betting Line:  Wisconsin -6.5
Opening Total:  128
Current Total:  128
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Illinois Fighting Illini are 5-16 ATS in their last 21 Big Ten Conference games

Illinois has alternated wins and losses over its last six games, as it looks to bounce back from a disappointing 84-67 setback to the Minnesota Golden Gophers as two-point home underdogs, while going OVER the posted total of 140.5.  The Fighting Illini have lost eight consecutive Big Ten Conference road games, but are hoping to snap that streak under first-year head coach John Groce.  “This league is a monster, it’s a grind,” stated Groce this week.  The program has won three times at the Kohl Center in 12 trips, but is 2-5 in seven previous visits as a ranked team.  Illinois is 5-16 ATS in its last 21 conference games, something to consider when making your college basketball predictions Saturday.

The Fighting Illini are led offensively by the play of guard Brandon Paul, who has scored in double figures in each of the last three games against the Badgers, including a game-high 22 points on the road last year.  He has scored in double figures in all 17 games this season.  If the game is close down the stretch, it’s important to note that this squad is hitting 78.7 percent of its shots from the charity stripe during conference play.

Wisconsin has won five games in a row and has started 2-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since the 2009-10 season, as it has held its last nine opponents to 60 points or less, including a 47-41 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers as nine-point road favorites last time out.  The Badgers have held the Fighting Illini to an average of 59.0 points on 38.8 percent shooting in their last five meetings in Madison.  Wisconsin is 9-3 ATS in its last 12 home games versus a team with a winning road record, which is important to consider when looking over the college basketball odds page.

The Badgers have three probable starters averaging in double figures, with senior forward Jared Berggren scoring 13.3 points per game, while leading the conference with 32 blocks.  Wisconsin has won 10 of the last 14 meetings in this series, including three straight, while the first team to score 60 points is 21-1 over the last 22 meetings.

Sports bettors will likely play the total in this affair, as the OVER is 4-0 in the last four meetings in this series.

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