Brad Underwood’s Fighting Illini squad should get back into the win column in the Minnesota at Illinois betting matchup but covering a -14.5 point spread at home may be a different story. Illinois (17-9) played well in Bloomington on Saturday, but ultimately fell for the third time in the last four games 71-68 to Indiana although covering the +6.5 point spread.
The Golden Gophers (7-17) have now dropped 9 in a row after a 76-69 loss to Penn State on Saturday. Minnesota has one conference win on the season, a 70-67 win at Ohio State on January 12th but otherwise it’s been a season to forget. Even getting +14.5 points, just 32% of the betting public likes Minnesota in this spot.
Why Minnesota Can Cover +14.5 Points
You have to really be optimistic to think the Golden Gophers can win Monday night’s game outright, but +14.5 points seems like it could be a doable number. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why the Golden Gophers can keep this one close is the Illinois injury report, as Terrence Shannon, Jr. missed Saturday’s game in concussion protocol and remains questionable.
Minnesota is just 1-5 on the road in Big Ten play this season, but they’ve done a good job of keeping games fairly competitive. That resume includes a 63-60 loss at Wisconsin to cover +13 and 60-56 at Michigan with a line of +12.5 as well as the outright win over Ohio State.
Minnesota played well over the weekend despite some awkward scheduling. This game with Illinois was postponed due to COVID and last week the Golden Gophers contest with Michigan State was scrapped after a shooting on campus in East Lansing. The layoff did help Minnesota leading scorer Dawson Garcia (15.4 ppg) back from his foot injury and put in 23 points in his first game since January 22nd.
Why Illinois Can Cover -14.5 Points
The Fighting Illini -14.5 can be the play in Minnesota at Illinois betting just because of their opponent. The Golden Gophers have played some close conference road games this season, but in their most recent excursion out of the Twin Cities they lost 90-55 at Rutgers on February 1st and are now playing their first away tilt in nearly three weeks.
The loss of Shannon, Jr. will hurt Illinois for sure, but they played well without him over the weekend pushing #14 Indiana to the brink before losing 71-68. Matthew Mayer led the way with 24 points against the Hoosiers and had 19 points and 10 rebounds in the first meeting with Minnesota.
Illinois has lost three of their last four, but those have all been on the road. The Fighting Illini are 12-2 at home on the year, and usually a meeting with Minnesota has been good for what ails Illinois as they have won and covered in six of the last seven head to head contests.
Free Minnesota at Illinois Betting Pick
There isn’t a whole lot to like about the Golden Gophers here, but they did knock of some of their rust over the weekend and have Garcia back in the lineup. Illinois should get the W, but that’s a lot of points to be giving without the services of Shannon, Jr.
Free Pick: Minnesota +14.5