The Minnesota Golden Gophers (12-3) are listed as huge -8 favorites in a conference matchup with Illinois (10-5) in the 1/3 college basketball free pick. Minnesota has won five straight home games, but they’ve been favored by more than a dozen points in each of them (2-3 ATS). The Fighting Illini are just 0-3 on the road, but they’ve been competitive in each of those defeats.
Illinois Looks to Make it Three in a Row
The Fighting Illini finished the 2017 calendar year strong, winning two straight including a 70-64 upset victory over Missouri in the ‘Braggin Rights Game’ – as +5 underdogs. Illinois could finally be coming into their own under 1st year coach Brad Underwood’s system. UI followed up the big win against Mizzu with a 62-58 win over Grand Canyon – a score many fans consider way too close. Does Illinois have questions coming into the 2018 calendar year or answers as conference play goes full swing?
One thing the Illini need to do to get a win in the 1/3 college basketball free pick is close out down the stretch. Each of Illinois’ five losses have come by less than 7 points – which bodes well with tonight’s +8 line. Forget keeping it close however, the Illini want the win; and have the talent to pull it off. F Leron Black has 20 points in each of the past two games, G Aaron Jordan shoots almost 60% from three point range, and G Trent Frazier has tallied double digits off the bench in five straight contests.
Tonight, @IlliniMBB aims for its 13th win in its last 16 games at Williams Arena. The Fighting Illini have recorded 45 all-time victories at Minnesota. Tip off at 8 p.m. CT. pic.twitter.com/hWUMZFBHH2
— Mike Pearson (@illinilegends) January 3, 2018
Minnesota Needs to Avoid Complacency
The Golden Gophers have compiled an impressive W/L record to start the season, but at the same time they haven’t really been challenged recently – or have been a sign of inconstancy in other games. Minnesota has an 81-86 loss to Miami-Fl this season as -6 favorites and dropped the Big Ten opener 68-78 at Nebraska as -8.5 favorites. Even on their recent home stand the Gophers survived a 68- 67 win over Drake despite being -20.5 favorites.
Minnesota is just 1-5 ATS their last six but have the offense to get the win (and cover) in the 1/3 college basketball free pick. The Golden Gophers have the 34th highest scoring team in the league at 83.8 points per game although Illinois averages 80.3 as well. Jordan Murphy is going to be a tough matchup for Illinois on Wednesday night as the F is the #2 rebounder in the country at 12.6 per game. Murphy has double digit boards in every game this season and should have a tough battle with the Illini’s Leron Black tonight.
— SERC (@SERCenter) January 3, 2018
1/3 College Basketball Free Pick – Betting
8 points seems like a lot in this contest based on the inconsistency of Minnesota. 53% of bettors agree as they are backing the Illini. The line has stayed firm and there’s good value on Illinois considering UI is 10-3 ATS the last 13 meetings in Minnesota and 20-8 ATS the last 28 meetings. The Illini might not win the 1/3 college basketball free pick, but they should be in for a fight.
Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini +8