Michigan vs. Illinois, 01/11/17 – Prediction
Written by: Nikhil Kalro
Michigan Wolverines (11-5, 4-9 ATS) at Illinois Fighting Illini (11-5, 6-7 ATS)
NCAAB: Wednesday, January 11 at 9.00 PM ET, State Farm Center, Champaign, Illinois
The Line: Michigan -3
Two teams with identical season records, 11-5, face off as the Michigan Wolverines travel to Illinois to face the Fighting Illini in a Big Ten match-up. The Wolverines were beaten by the Maryland Terrapins, 77-70, in a display of prowess from the three-point range. Illinois got their first conference win by easing past the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Wolverines owned from distance
Normally, Michigan depend on a stellar defensive unit to help them scrap through games. The Maryland Terrapins had their own ideas and executed from beyond the arc to eke out a 77-70 win against the Wolverines. The Terrapins were 10 of 15 from distance.
The Terrapins led by 11 at halftime, but Michigan kept finding ways to get close, but not past Maryland. The Terrapins led 71-68, before both teams traded baskets. The Terrapins, though, used their advantage and made their free throws to consign the Wolverines to their second conference loss.
“We’re growing every single day, but other teams are too,” Wolverines coach John Beilein said.
The Wolverines defense concedes about 64 points a game, which ranks them 30th in the country. They score 74.7 points a game, pushing them down to 160th overall nationally.
Illinois hold on for first Big Ten win
The Ohio State Buckeyes fought. They scrapped. But importantly, the Illinois Fighting Illini found a way to get the W. With a little under a minute remaining, Malcolm Hill received an inbound pass and drilled his way to the basket to make a layup and put Illinois up 73-67.
Illinois calmly hung on to register their first conference win of the season, 75-70. “We felt like we needed to be more resilient and handle a team’s run,” Illinois coach John Groce said. “We had to respond to that and our response to that was much better than it was the other night. We have to go back to being who we are with that.”
Hill, the team’s leading scorer with an average of 18.8 points per game, scored 20. Tracy Abrams scored 16 points. Illinois enjoyed a 15-point lead at the end of the first half, which was cut to 11 at the break. The Buckeyes kept getting close, but the Fighting Illini quelled their spirit by making big, clutch shots.
Michigan Wolverines are:
- 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games as a road favorite of 0.5-6.5.
Illinois Fighting Illini are
- 10-26 ATS in their last 36 games as a home underdog.
- 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games as an underdog.
- 9-24 ATS in their last 33 games as an underdog of 0.5-6.5.
I’m taking the Wolverines here. They have the better defense, and an offense that can put up plenty against this Illinois defense that averages almost 73 points conceded per game. The game may not be a high-scorer and the team with the better defense should be able to value possessions more. Take the Wolverines for an ATS win.
The Pick: Michigan Wolverines -3
Nikhil has been working with ESPN since the age of 18 and covers cricket for their website ESPNcricinfo. When not writing or editing news, game reports, commentary and analysis stories, he is following American sports. A love for stats and patterns, research and results and plain simple learning with a few years of handicapping experience makes him almost 0.500 reliable. A degree in business administration and a keen eye for volatile industries like the stock market help too.
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