College basketball Sunday in Big Ten action will see the Illinois Fighting Illini travel to take on the Michigan Wolverines. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. tipoff and it will be televised nationally on CBS. Currently the odds have Michigan favored by 5.5 points with the total sitting at 119 points.
Free Analysis: This is a bigtime game for Michigan as they sit currently in a tie for third place in the conference with Wisconsin. The Wolverines have been money at home this season, winning all 13 of their games in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines (18-7, 8-4 Big Ten) have been consistently inconsistent the past few weeks, alternating wins and losses on the season. They've also played five of six games on the road. Illinois (16-8, 5-6) comes into this game today losers of two in a row and five of six. The Illini fell 84-71 at No. 23 Indiana on Thursday to drop to 1-4 in conference road games at this point in the season. "We're close," coach Bruce Weber said. "We've just got to see if we can connect it all together." Michigan has been up and down offensively this season, but still average 66.8 points per game on the season. However, they have been a pretty good defensive team this year. Michigan's last seven opponents to have averaged just 59.9 points per game. "I think the game is a lot about our defense," coach John Beilein said. "That sort of sets the tone for our team." Michigan's 13 wins at Crisler Center are the second most in school history to open a season. The best mark in the school's history saw the Wolverines open 15-0 in 1985-86. The Wolverines are holding opponents to 54.1 points per game at home, where they play three of their next four games as the conference season comes to an end. If Michigan is to win the game today, they'll have to get offense from Tim Hardaway Jr., who has struggled recently. Hardaway has averaged just 7.7 points and shot 22.9 percent during the last three games, going 2 of 17 from beyond the arc. He's still the team leader at over 14 points per game. Illinois is in the middle of their toughest stretch of the season, having lost five of their last six games. Brandon Paul will have to come up big for the Illini in the game. He's a big physical guard that has the potential to give Michigan problems. He's the third leading scorer in the Big Ten at more than 19 points per game and he can get to the free throw line quite often. Michigan will also have to look out for Meyers Leonard in the middle, who blocks more than two shots per game. A benefit for Michigan will be the ability for Trey Burke to drive and dish for open looks on the perimeter.
Free Pick: I am kinda surprised Michigan is favored by this many points, to be honest. Illinois, however, hasn't played well on the road this season and is in the middle of a bigtime funk right now. The Wolverines need to continue to stay in the hunt for the Big Ten title, which sounds crazy but it's true. Winning games at home is important in being able to accomplish that. If Michigan can knock down jumpers and stay away from the interior of Illinois' defense, I think they can beat the number. However, if Paul is able to consistently get to the free throw line and has a monster game, Michigan can be in some trouble. We'll take Michigan in this game, laying the points at home. If Michigan plays to their gameplan, that shouldn't be a problem.
Free Picks: Illinois at Michigan BettingMichigan 13-0 at home and Illinois with major height advantage plus other factors CBB bettors need to know about Illinois at Michigan (SUNDAY, February 12, 2012) from Pregame.com - Including predictions from Bryan Leonard and analysis from host Vegas Runner.