The Indiana Hoosiers sit atop the national rankings again, but they’ve always found it difficult to beat the Illinois Fighting Illini at Assembly Hall in Champaign. Why do we believe that the total holds the best value for our sports picks tonight?


Let’s take a closer look at the betting market for this
Big Ten Basketball matchup that tips off on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. ET. 

On top of the mountain...again

Image previewThe Indiana Hoosiers are the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 poll again, as it captured a solid 81-73 victory over the Michigan Wolverines as 5.5-point home favorites last Saturday, which served as the team’s fifth consecutive win. The Hoosiers have beaten opponents by an average of 16.2 points during their current winning streak, while the OVER has gone 3-2 in that span. 

Heading in the wrong direction 

Illinois has dropped three in a row by allowing at least 74 points in each of those affairs, including a 74-68 setback to the Wisconsin Badgers as 1.5-point home underdogs on Super Bowl Sunday, while going OVER the total for a second consecutive contest. The Fighting Illini have allowed foes to knock down 51.3 percent of their shots during that stretch, which doesn’t bode well when facing one of the top offensive teams in the country.

Zeller has been stellar 

Preseason National Player of the Year Cody Zeller has had five double-doubles in the first nine games of Big Ten play, averaging 16.1 points and 8.9 rebounds in those contests. He’s a major reason why Indiana ranks second nationally in scoring differential (22.8) and in scoring (83.8). 

The star center finished with a game-high 22 points in 32 minutes in the Hoosiers’ 84-71 victory over the Illinois Fighting Illini as 5.5-point home favorites in last year’s meeting, which climbed OVER the posted total of 135.

A puncher’s chance

The College basketball odds list Illinois at +7, but bettors may find the Fighting Illini as intriguing home underdogs in the betting market, considering they’ve won nine of their last 10 home games versus the Hoosiers. Illinois is also one of seven teams who have defeated a total of three opponents featured in the current rankings.

It’s also important to note that the home team has covered the spread in four of the last five meetings in this rivalry.


Prediction 

I’m going to recommend that readers play the total as one of their NCAA basketball picks Thursday night, as Fighting Illini first-year head coach John Groce has been preaching defense in Champaign all week. In order to have any chance of winning this game, Illinois will need to hold the Hoosiers to around the 70-point mark.

College Basketball Pick: Under 149 at Bookmaker