The Michigan Wolverines and Illinois Fighting Illini play the early game in the Big Ten Tournament today. The game is scheduled for a noon start time and it will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. Currently the College Basketball Betting Odds for the game have Illinois listed as a small favorite in this one.
Illinois and Michigan met twice during the regular season, both games going to overtime. Back in December the Wolverines got 19 points from Caris LeVert, but LeVert has been out for a couple of months with a broken foot. The Wolverines have gone just 4-8 during his absence and have essentially been a beat up team for a couple of months.
Despite the injuries to key player, Derrick Walton Jr. included, Michigan’s youngsters have gotten a ton of playing time. Aubrey Dawkins didn’t have much interest coming out of high school but earned a scholarship from Michigan — he scored 20 points in the Michigan win over Illinois in December. The last two Michigan games have seen Dawkins post 21 and 31 points.
Illinois absolutely needs to win this game if they have any chance to make the NCAA Tournament. The Fighting Illini beat Michigan in Champaign back in mid-February by out-scoring the Wolverines 14-2 in the overtime session. Kendrick Nunn led with 21 points in that game and he played well during the absence of Rayvonte Rice. Yet, since the return of Rice Illinois has gone just 3-4.
Now they find themselves firmly on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament and beating Michigan won’t help their resume. Losing, however, would certainly make the claim they are going to miss the Big Dance. Because of that, expect Illinois to play well in this one. Michigan can play spoiler and the Wolverines are solid when they are shooting the basketball well. But with as much on the line as Illinois has, they pick up the win in this one.
Free Pick: Illinois 65, Michigan 61
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