NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS (9-3)
at ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (12-3)
Tip-off: Thursday, 9:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Illinois -9, Total: 144.5
Illinois hopes to continue its home dominance of Northwestern when the two teams meet on Thursday night. The Illini have won eight straight games against the Wildcats in Champaign, dating back to 1999. Odds.
Illinois senior guard Demetri McCamey (16.3 PPG, 7.3 APG, 52.2% three-pointers), seems to be heating up just in time for Big Ten play. After a 20-point, 10-assist effort in an 87-77 win at Iowa on Dec. 29, he had 21 and seven assists in a 69-61 victory over Wisconsin on Sunday. Last season, the senior scored 15.2 PPG against conference opponents and averaged 11.0 PPG versus Northwestern. D.J. Richardson (11.6 PPG, 45.5% three-pointers) and Mike Davis (11.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG) are the other two double-digit scorers for the Illini. Richardson had six points against the Badgers, while Davis finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Scores.
The Wildcats look to rebound from 65-62 setback versus Michigan State on Monday, their third loss in four games and second straight in the Big Ten. Northwestern hung with the Spartans late, despite shooting a season-low 31.6% from the field. Leading scorer John Shurna (21.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 58.3% three-pointers) struggled mightily with his shot, finishing 1-of-11 from the field and 1-for-5 on three-pointers. Shurna, who has been bothered by a sore ankle, scored only 11 points and is 9-of-29 from the field in his past three games. He averaged 23 points in two games against Illinois last season, and was 6-of-14 from beyond the arc. Drew Crawford (14.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG) led the Wildcats with 17 points and eight boards against Michigan State, but he shot only 5-of-16 from the floor. Michael Thompson (14.8 PPG, 4.5 APG), second on the team in scoring, chipped in with 12 points, but hit just 5-of-13 field goals.
Illinois and Northwestern split two games last season, with each team winning on its home court. It took overtime for the Illini to claim an 89-83 decision at home on Dec. 30, 2009, as Mike Tisdale (9.7 PPG, 7.2 RPG) led Illinois with 31 points and 11 rebounds. Northwestern returned the favor with a 73-68 triumph last January, which ended an 11-game losing streak to Illinois.
Although Illinois is 21-3 SU in this series since 1997, Northwestern has won the past three meetings ATS. Expect the Wildcats to give the Illini another tough battle on Thursday. These two FoxSheets trends likes Northwestern to cover the spread.
NORTHWESTERN is 7-0 ATS (+7.0 Units) versus good passing teams, averaging >=16 assists/game after 15+ games over the last 3 seasons. The average score was NORTHWESTERN 69.1, OPPONENT 67.7 – (Rating = 2*).
Bill Carmody is 9-1 ATS (+7.9 Units) off a close loss by 3 points or less to a conference rival as the coach of NORTHWESTERN. The average score was NORTHWESTERN 67.4, OPPONENT 62.9 – (Rating = 2*).
And these two FoxSheets trends expect the game to finish Under the total.
Bruce Weber is 30-11 UNDER (73.2%, +17.9 Units) versus teams who average 33 or less rebounds/game on the season as the coach of ILLINOIS. The average score was ILLINOIS 63.9, OPPONENT 55.6 – (Rating = 3*). Las Vegas odds.
Play Under – Home teams against the total (ILLINOIS) – excellent shooting team (>=47.5%) against an average defensive team (42.5-45%), after a game where a team made 55% of their shots or better. (119-65 since 1997.) (64.7%, +47.5 units. Rating = 2*).