Wisconsin proved they’re still one of the most dangerous teams in the country as they handed Michigan their first loss of the season last Saturday. The 65-54 win over the #2 Wolverines at home as +3.5 underdogs was impressive but it also lends itself to a letdown game when the Badgers visit Illinois on Wednesday. The January 23rd Big Ten free pick sees UW favored by -4 at Assembly Hall vs. the Fighting Illini. That line seems a bit low, do the Badgers falter in this one?
Can Wisconsin Continue Domination Over Illini?
The Badgers are in what would normally be a letdown game as they head into the January 23rd Big Ten CBB free pick. UW can take some solace in knowing that they’ve won the last 13 matchups with Illinois. The Fighting Illini haven’t won a game in this series since 2011. That doesn’t seem likely to change for an Illinois team that fouls a lot and doesn’t really have a defensive option to stop the Badgers’ Ethan Happ. The Wisconsin big man is playing well lately with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists vs. Michigan. He also had 31/13/6 two games ago vs. Purdue and will dominate the inside on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s O/U is set at 138 and quite frankly Wisconsin should be able to do anything they want against an Illinois defense that is one of the worst in the country (319th) in opponents field goal percentages. Wisconsin posted a 75-50 win in Madison last season vs. the Illini and beat them 78-69 when the teams returned to Champaign. Happ had 27 in the game in Champaign and Brad Davison averaged 16 ppg over the two contests.
Can Illinois Generate Any Momentum on Wednesday?
There is one positive in the fact that Illinois is at least back home in the January 23rd Big Ten CBB free pick. It was in Assembly Hall that the Illini scored their first conference win of the year in thumping Minnesota 95-68. The Illini defense did a number on Gophers star Jordan Murphy in that game (11 points) and also limited the conference’s leading rebounder to just 3 boards. It gives them hope vs. Happ on Wednesday. The offense looked good for the Illini the last time they were at home as well with Ayo Dosunmo improving his NBA stock with 23 points. Giorgi Bezhanishvili chipped in 20 points and his energy will be huge for an upset over Wisconsin.
With the Illini play like that home team that beat Minnesota – or the one that just got slammed 95-71 vs. Iowa on Sunday? Trent Frazier once again struggled to find his stroke on the road going 3-11 from three point range at Carver-Hawkeye. Iowa shot 15-21 from three point range in that game which is an indictment against Illinois’ perimeter defense. Maybe Frazier can get it going back at home – he did shoot 7/11 from three point range at Assembly Hall vs. Wisconsin last season en route to 32 points.
January 23rd Big Ten CBB Free Pick Betting
Wisconsin looked good against Michigan Saturday but you have to remember they are just 2-4 over their last six games. Happ has been great at times – but he was also held to just 10 points two games ago vs. Maryland. Illinois looked legitimate in their last home game vs. Minnesota and will be chomping at the bit to end their 13 game losing streak vs. the Badgers.
Big Ten Free Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini +4