Wolverines vs. Fighting Illini: Big Ten Conference Rivals Meet Inside Assembly Hall

No. 16 Michigan Wolverines at Illinois Fighting Illini
Thursday, 3/1/12, 7:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  Illinois PK
Current Betting Line:  Illinois -2.5
Opening Total:  120.5
Current Total:  120.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Michigan Wolverines have not lost back-to-back games during the 2011-12 campaign

Michigan had its four-game win streak snapped in dropping a 75-61 contest to the Purdue Boilermakers as five-point home favorites last time out, but will now look to make it three wins in a row in this Big Ten Conference series.  The Wolverines will definitely be tested, as they’ve lost 13 consecutive games inside Assembly Hall.  “There’s many other places that Michigan and a lot of teams have not won at in a long time,” commented Wolverines head coach John Beilein.  “We’re trying to get a really tough road win.”  Michigan is 29-11 ATS as a underdog the last two-plus years.

The Wolverines used four players scoring in double figures in a 70-61 win over the Illini at the Crisler Center on Feb. 12.  Michigan was led by the play of junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored a team-high 15 points.  Overall, the team shot 50 percent from the field, including 44 percent from beyond the arc.  Trey Burke is also an important player to watch, as he continues to be mentioned among a few to be named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year.

Illinois wraps up Big Ten play with back-to-back games against ranked team, posting a 3-4 mark in such contests during the 2011-12 campaign.  The Fighting Illini are certainly on the bubble and the locker room knows it.  “We’ve talked about the postseason the whole time,” commented Fighting Illini head coach Bruce Weber.  It’s important to note that all three wins versus ranked teams have happened inside tonight’s venue.  The program’s current win streak at home versus Michigan is its longest versus any conference opponent at this time.  Illinois is 6-8 ATS at home and the “under” is 7-6 in that situation.

The Fighting Illini snapped a six-game skid with a spirited 65-54 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes last time out, which served as the team’s first double-digit margin victory in conference play.  Sophomore center Meyers Leonard led the team by scoring a season-high 22 points and also grabbing 14 rebounds.  Brandon Paul is another player to watch offensively, averaging 17.6 points per game during conference play, which is third on the league’s list.

Bettors will likely back the Wolverines due to their 7-1 ATS mark following a double-digit home loss, while the Fighting Illini are 1-6 ATS versus conference foes.

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