The perspective has changed from a couple weeks ago for both Penn State and Illinois. The Nittany Lions come into the February 23rd Big Ten CBB free pick with a 3-2 record over their last five, an impressive feat following an 8 game losing streak. The Illini are favorites Saturday (-2.5) as they’ve put together wins in 4 of the last 5. The early lean goes toward Brad Underwood and the home squad, but does PSU have an upset in them?
Penn State Doing Their Part For a High Scoring Affair?
Saturday’s total is 146.5 which could soar way over thanks in part to Penn State’s much improved offense. The Nittany Lions nearly put up triple digits their last time out in a 95-71 win over Nebraska that was powered by 29 points from Lamar Stevens and another 21 from Rasir Bolton. It was Stevens’ second game of 26+ points in the last three as Penn State was also impressive in a 75-69 home win over Michigan.
Being on the road in the February 23rd Big Ten CBB free pick shouldn’t be a problem for the Nittany Lions even though they’re just 1-8 going away this season. Although not many wins have come of it, PSU has played well on the road lately including a 4-point loss at Ohio State, a 59-52 win at Northwestern, and a 1 point loss in Minnesota. Yes, a week ago the Nittany Lions lost 64-76 at Purdue but that was expected as +12 underdogs. Saturday’s game in Champaign is very winnable in coach Pat Chambers’ eyes.
Illini Look to Keep Flying High
It’s going to be a great atmosphere in Champaign on Saturday as the 30th anniversary of the “Flyin’ Illini” Final Four team is honored at halftime. Basketball is fun again at the State Farm Center fueled by a complete turnaround by the current incarnation of the Illinois team. The Illini have risen from the basement of the conference to win 4 of their last 5 games. Even a 58-64 loss in Madison to a solid Wisconsin team was a winnable outing for Underwood’s squad. Being back home in the February 23rd Big Ten CBB free pick definitely favors the Illini though as their last game in front of the home crowd was a 99-94 OT thriller over Rutgers way back on February 9th.
Pick your poison on who wants to beat you for this Illinois team lately. Giorgi Bezhanishvili for example dropped 35 in that last home game vs. the Scarlet Knights. Trent Frazier had 30 at the end of January even though it was in a loss to Minnesota, and Ayo Dosunmu had a 24 point game to power the upset over Michigan State to start the month. The Illini also have a deep bench that allows them to play the tenacious d that leads the Big 10 in steals and turnovers per game.
February 23rd Big Ten CBB Free Pick Betting
Illinois got killed in this matchup last year, 74-52 also in Champaign. This is a much different team however playing hot with some developing young talent. PSU’s 3 wins in 5 games are solid, but only the win vs. Michigan stands out as an upset. They beat a slumping Northwestern squad and topped Nebraska at home as -3 favorites. Throw in the hubbub about the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Illini greats today, and the current Illinois squad is going to want to impress.
Big Ten CBB Free Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini -2.5