Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Northwestern Wildcats
The Illinois Fighting Illini and the Northwestern Wildcats meet on Sunday in Big Ten college basketball action. The Fighting Illini are -6 point favorites over the Wildcats with an over/under point total set at 130.
The Illinois Fighting Illini have been a tough team to figure out this year as just when Bruce Weber’s team is rolling they lose and just when we are ready to write them off they win. Illinois is 5-4 in Big Ten play, 12-1 at home this season, and they are tied for fifth place in the conference standings. Brandon Paul is averaging 14.8 points and 5.1 rebounds, Meyers Leonard is averaging 13 points and 8.0 rebounds, and D.J. Richardson is averaging 12.3 points. As a team UI is averaging 66.7 points and they are shooting 44.5 percent while defensively they are allowing 60.8 points and their opponents are shooting 40.2 percent. Illinois has shown the ability to step it up and beat some of the top teams in the conference and in the nation.
The Northwestern Wildcats need wins now if Bill Carmody’s team is going to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. Northwestern is 3-6 in the Big Ten, 1-5 on the road this year, and they are in 10th place in the standings. John Shurna is averaging 19.4 points and 5.9 rebounds, Drew Crawford is averaging 17.4 points and 4.7 rebounds, and Dave Sobolewski is averaging 8.1 points. As a team Northwestern is averaging 69.4 points and they are shooting 44.6 percent while defensively they are allowing 67 points and their opponents are shooting 44.2 percent. Northwestern was favored when these two met earlier this year in Evanston but were on the wrong side of the final score.
Illinois is 2-8 against the spread following a cover, 2-6 against the spread following a win, and 0-4 against the spread in their last four Sunday games. Northwestern is 1-4 against the spread in their last five road games, 0-5 against the spread following a win, and 2-6 against the spread in their last eight Sunday games. The underdog has covered in four of the last five meetings of these two.
My pick is a lean on the under.