Illinois is +3 point home underdogs to Nebraska in the February 2nd Big Ten CBB free pick. The Fighting Illini looked very solid last Saturday in a win over then #13 Maryland (at Madison Square Garden) and there’s value on Brad Underwood’s team at home vs. Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have dropped four in a row and are just 2-4 on the road this season. Even so, is it possible to pull the trigger on an Illinois team that is, overall, pretty bad?
Nebraska Looks to Stop Their 4-Game Skid
Sure there are some questions surrounding the Nebraska basketball program right now as they are just 3-7 in the conference this season. The Cornhuskers have dropped four straight and even worse they’ve been favorites in the last three of those defeats. One thing the ‘Huskers do have going for them is that they were dominant over Illinois earlier this season. In that 75-60 win in Lincoln, James Palmer Jr. scored 23 points while Isaac Copeland Jr added 16 although he is now out for the year with a knee injury. Nebraska was a -13 favorite in that game. Nebraska won 64-63 over Illinois at home last season but dropped a 66-72 decision when they played in Champaign last February.
Nebraska’s win over Illinois earlier this season was impressive, but the Cornhuskers don’t seem like the same team – and the Illini have gotten much better. Over their four game losing streak, Nebraska has dropped the last two by double digits and both contests were at home. Nebraska shot just 36% in a 60-70 loss to Ohio State last Saturday but they were even worse in a 51-62 defeat by Wisconsin. In that game on Tuesday the Cornhuskers were 17-60 (28%) from the field.
Does Home Court Favor the Illini?
Illinois is just 5-4 at the State Farm Center this season but you have to think they have an edge being at home in the February 2nd Big Ten CBB free pick. Illinois was victorious over Nebraska in Champaign last season as Kipper Nichols and Trent Frazier combined for 24 points. In that 72-66 Illinois win, the Fighting Illini defense held Palmer to just 13 points. Frazier should be a key contributor on Saturday if he can continue his hot shooting from Wednesday. Even though Illinois lost 75-86 at Minnesota, Frazier had a career night going 10-14 from the field (5-9 from three point range) en route to 30 points scored.
Another player who will need to step up to help Illinois get the win as home underdogs is Ayo Dosunmu. The freshman was influential in helping the Illini get a 78-67 win over Maryland in New York, tossing in 20 points. Tevian Jones also shot 4-9 from three point range in that contest to finish with 18 points. Nebraska has a top 15 scoring defense (62.5 ppg) but does Illinois have an edge because the Cornhuskers offense has been so bad lately? Nebraska has scored 64 or less in three of their last four games.
Saturday February 2nd Big Ten CBB Free Pick Betting
The Nebraska defense will be tough on Saturday but Illinois has a very talented offense. The Illini’s struggles are on the other end of the court but Nebraska struggles if Palmer doesn’t have a big day. The defense of Illinois’ Giorgi Bezhanishvili can help put the clamps on the Nebraska star and Illinois gets the outright win at home.
Big Ten Free Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini +3