College Basketball Betting: Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Northwestern Wildcats Pick

Illinois Fighting Illini
(15-7, 11-11 ATS)

Northwestern Wildcats
(13-8, 9-6 ATS)

Two teams that are sitting squarely on the Big Ten bubble for the NCAA Tournament are going to be engaging in NCAA basketball wagering warfare in Evanston on Saturday afternoon, as the Northwestern Wildcats face off with the Illinois Fighting Illini.

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Illinois broke a streak of four losses in five games earlier this week when it beat the snot out of the Penn State Nittany Lions 68-51 at Assembly Hall. The problem is that there is only one road win in conference this year, and that was at the Iowa Hawkeyes, clearly the worst team in this conference. Even the Indiana Hoosiers took out the Illini last week on the road, something that really has to be concerning for Head Coach Bruce Weber since these next two are away from home. There is a legitimate chance to fall into some trouble with nine losses already to speak of, especially with the prospects of perhaps finishing at or below .500 on the season in the Big Ten. Demetri McCarney is the top guard on this team, averaging 6.8 assists and 14.7 points per game on the campaign. Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale are doing a solid job in the paint, picking up a combined 13.7 rebounds on the average night. They’re also two of the six scorers on this team that are averaging at least 8.4 points per game.

It seems like it should be a matter of time until the Wildcats end up getting into the NCAA Tournament, and this is the best shot that the purple clad squad has had in years. A loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes by a mere point last weekend at home wasn’t a damning result, though a win clearly would have been a heck of a lot nicer. Three straight losses are going to be hard to recover from, but a ‘W’ here against a Top 25 foe would really help out the cause. At times, this is just a one man band though, as John Shurna is one of the most explosive athletes in the conference. He is averaging 19.0 points per game and is shooting 52.2 percent from beyond the arc. Drew Crawford and Michael Thompson are double digit point scorers on a regular basis, but beyond that, there is really nothing of note. The bench for Northwestern is absolutely paper thin, and at times is totally MIA. However, Shurna can really do some big time damage and can single handedly beat any team in the land.

This really might be a do or die situation for the Wildcats. They really need to snare one of these games outright, not just to come close. Illinois could be in for a really tough battle on Saturday afternoon.

College Basketball Free Pick: Northwestern Wildcats

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