No. 5 Michigan hits the road Wednesday night for a Big Ten matchup with Illinois. The Wolverines got back on track last weekend with a conference win against Iowa after losing for the first time on the season at Louisville. Juwan Howard’s team was able to pull out the win but surrendered 91 points to the Hawkeyes on Friday night. Luka Garza poured in 44 points against what is supposed to be one of the best defensive frontcourts in the country.
The Illini are looking to get back on the winning track following back-to-back losses against Miami and Maryland. Illinois fell way behind against the Hurricanes in the ACC/Big Ten challenge before storming almost all the way back. In the end, Chris Lykes made too many plays for Miami, and Illinois came up short on its home court.
The Illini also played Maryland tough over the weekend but weren’t able to secure a win in their Big Ten opener. In both games, sophomore Ayo Dosunmu struggled from beyond the arc, going a combined 1-of-7 in the losses.
Michigan is a two-point favorite in this game, with the over/under being set at 142.5
Best In The Big Ten?
The Wolverines are 6-3 ATS on the season, but 5-1 ATS in their last six games and have gone over in five of nine games. They are incredibly efficient both offensively and defensively, shooting 39.9 percent from behind the arc while holding opponents to just 28.2 percent from three-point land. Jon Teske will have another tough matchup as he goes against Kofi Cockburn, a 7-foot, 300-pound behemoth who is a terror on the offensive glass. Teske should be amped for this matchup after allowing Garza to have a career day in Michigan’s last time on the floor.
Illini Need Ayo To Be The Alpha
The Illini have a talented roster and were a trendy selection for the bubble in the preseason. The problem has been their play against fellow Power 6 Conference teams. The Illini looked bad in Arizona and even worse on their home court in the first half against Miami. They were able to make the Maryland game a rock fight and actually led by 12 before falling apart in the final 10 minutes.
The consistency in the lines is also not there, as they are 4-4 ATS and 4-4 on the over/under. The Illini are one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the nation, which is a slight weakness of Michigan. The Illini also need to take care of the ball better, as they currently rank 284th in the nation in turnover percentage. Michigan doesn’t force a ton of turnovers, but it does force teams to take bad shots.
Pick and Prediction
Michigan is one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the nation. It has experience and has high basketball IQ, led by point guard Zavier Simpson. Illinois has looked undisciplined and prone to long stretches of poor play against teams far worse than the Wolverines. Even on the road, the Wolverines should be favored by 4.5 or five points.
If Dosunmu or Trent Frazier gets it going from beyond the arc, Illinois has a shot, but Michigan will likely make an adjustment to take that away. Michigan has also scored at least 79 points in six of its eight games, twice getting into triple-digits. Illinois should get 60 to 65, so play the over and take the Wolverines giving the points.
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