Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Illinois Fighting Illini and the Minnesota Golden Gophers begin their Big Ten seasons as they meet on Tuesday in Champaign. The Illini are -4.5 point fvorites over the Golden Gophers with an over/under point total set at 128.
The Illinois Fighting Illini are off to a solid start but Bruce Weber’s team has lost two of their last three games heading into their conference opener. While both of their losses are to ranked teams, UNLV and Missouri, they are both losses none the less as the Illini hope to turn things back around and look for momentum heading into the New Year. D.J. Richardson is averaging 14.3 points, Meyers Leonard is averaging 13.4 points and 8.2 rebounds, Brandon Paul is averaging 11.3 points and 4.4 rebounds, and Sam Maniscalco is averaging 10.6 points. As a team Illinois is averaging 69.4 points and they are shooting 44.9 percent while defensively they are allowing 59 points and their opponents shoot 39 percent. Illinois played hard losing to Missouri by just four points but it still wasn’t the win they needed and hoped for.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers have won six games in a row as they hit Big Ten play and Tubby Smith’s team will look to avoid the collapse they experienced last season. Minnesota looked strong a year ago when they started out but as the season progressed they couldn’t win against conference competition and the whole season slid downhill. No Gophers are averaging double digits as Trevor Mbakwe was lost for the year but Julian Welch is averaging 9.9 points, Rodney Williams is averaging 9.8 points and 4.8 rebounds, Austin Hollins is averaging 8.7 points, and Ralph Sampson III is averaging 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds. As a team Minnesota is averaging 70.5 points and they are shooting 49.4 percent while defensively they are allowing 59.9 points and their opponents shoot 40.7 percent. Minnesota is sixth in the nation in defensive rebounding but without Mbakwe this team will be challenged.
Illinois is 4-1 against the spread in their last five home games against a team with a winning road record, 1-4 against the spread in their last five games overall, and 0-4 against the spread in their last five home games. Minnesota is 5-12-1 against the spread following a game which they didn’t cover, 1-9-1 against the spread in their last 11 games against the Big Ten, and 6-13-2 against the spread in their last 21 games overall. The road team has covered in seven of the last 10 meetings of these two.
With the total set at 128 and dropping, I like the over .