The Big Ten Conference is once again loaded with some great college basketball teams, and that has led to some great matchups already this season. On Thursday night it will be the Illinois Fighting Illini visiting the Michigan Wolverines for a big conference matchup.
Illinois is currently near the top of the Big Ten Conference standings, and they are also the 14th ranked team in the country. The Fighting Illini have dropped two of their last three games, but they are still sitting at 12-4 on the year.
Michigan comes into this game with an overall record of 7-10, and they are desperate to turn things around in a hurry. The Wolverines did just pick up a win in their most recent game, and that will give them some momentum.
The betting odds for this game have the Illinois Fighting Illini as slim 2.5-point betting favorites on the road.
Illini Must Make Shots
Illinois continues to be without Terrence Shannon Jr. and that has taken away an All-American candidate from this team. The Fighting Illini are still scoring over 81 points per game this season, but they struggle when they don’t shoot it well from deep.
Marcus Domask is the second leading scorer in Big Ten Conference play this season, and he leads Illinois at 14.9 points per game. Illinois needs Coleman Hawkins to have a big game in this one, as he creates a mismatch when he steps on the floor.
The Fighting Illini have also been one of the best defensive teams in the country this season, and they can put up a low number in this game. Illinois has a size advantage, and they will look to exploit Michigan on both ends of the floor.
Wolverines Struggling to Defend
There is a reason that Michigan is currently sitting at just 7-10 on the year, and it’s because this team has not figured out a way to get stops. Michigan is allowing over 77 points per game this season, and that doesn’t get the job done against good teams.
The Wolverines do have a bunch of young and talented players, but they haven’t bought in to getting stops on the defensive end of the floor. Michigan has shown that they can score some points as they are averaging nearly 80 points per game.
Dug McDaniel is leading the way with 17.6 points per game this season, but he will need help in this game. Michigan will have to create some easy scores if they plan on picking up this upset win.
Fighting Illini Pick Up Road Win
It is not easy to win Big Ten Conference games on the road in any season, but that has been especially true this year. Playing at home will give Michigan a pretty big advantage in this game, but they also have some serious flaws.
The lack of defense from Michigan is going to end up being a huge problem in this game as the Fighting Illini are loaded with weapons. Illinois should be able to get enough open looks to score points, and their defense will take care of the rest.
Bet on the Illinois Fighting Illini to win and cover the slim 2.5-point betting spread that is set on Thursday night.