Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:45 PM EST.
7:00 PM EST. There is always some excitement in the arena when conference play starts but there are lots of reasons to fade the Hoosiers here with the first being that they are falsely ranked, coming in at #21 with an 11-2 record. The Hoosiers played two conference opponents earlier in the year and went 2-0 but it came against Big-10 bottom feeders, Northwestern and Penn State. Indiana has played a lot of weak teams, thus they come in having played the 147th ranked strength of schedule.
With its stock high, Indiana is being told and reading that they’re really good and with that comes some complacency when a team that it is supposed to beat comes calling. That team would be the Illini. This is not a good situational spot for the Hoosiers because following this one, they will play four of their next five on the road, and their next home game against Nebraska is no cakewalk. The Hoosiers have more important fish to fry and could easily overlook this enemy. Throw in a freshman point guard in Rob Phinisee, who is going through the gauntlet of league play for the first time, and this team is bound to lose a few it shouldn’t. Having won four consecutive games very recently by a total of eight points, the market is largely unaware that Indiana is teetering as it heads into a difficult stretch. Indiana’s spot in the Top 25 is going to be short-lived and while we’re not suggesting an upset here, we are suggesting that the Illini could easily come in well under this price.
The Illini are 4-9 and 0-2 in conference play but pay no attention to that record after they undoubtedly played an overambitious non-conference schedule. Check it out --- Illinois lost by just six to Gonzaga, by two against Notre Dame, by nine to Xavier, by eight to Georgetown, by 10 to Ohio State and by 15 to Nebraska. That all equates to the 19th toughest schedule in the country and they didn’t look a bit out of a place in any of them while nearly knocking off at least three of the aforementioned. Illinois has issues but they have a very talented backcourt and in this sport, that is a real key that gives them a puncher’s chance to always hang around. If Indiana wins going away here, so be it but what we know for sure is that we’re taking back a bunch of inflated points here because Indiana is ranked and because of the misleading records of both.
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#615 Illinois +11½ -110 (Risking 2.20 units - To Win: 2.00)