Michigan vs. Illinois Predictions 1/14/22
Michigan Wolverines (7-6 SU, 5-8 ATS) vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (12-3 SU, 8-7 ATS)
When: Friday, January 14, 9 p.m.
Where: State Farm Center, Champaign, Ill.
Point Spread: MICH +9.5/ILL -9.5 (BetOnline - If you’re not using these guys as one of your outs, you’re missing out! So many reasons to love one of the biggest and best bookies on the web!)
Moneyline: MICH +400/ILL -550
Last Time Out:
Michigan lost 75-67 to Rutgers; Illinois beat Nebraska 81-71.
About the Matchup:
From being a No. 1 seed to a team that might not even make the NCAA tournament, Michigan has been one of the year’s biggest disappointments by a mile. The Wolverines haven’t gotten any consistency going, and they’re currently in a situation where they’ve lost three of their past four games and have taken a pair of double-digit losses in games they should have been able to handle. Minnesota was picked for last in the conference, but the Gophers came to Ann Arbor and left with a 75-65 victory over the Wolverines, showing that this is not a strong Michigan team by any stretch of the imagination.
Illinois swatted the same Minnesota team by 23 and did it in Minneapolis, one of seven covers in the Illini’s past nine contests. Illinois has been playing excellent basketball for the better part of the past month, with a slight slip against Nebraska that allowed the Huskers the cover being the only blemish. The Illini might have lost Ayo Dosunmu from last year, but they still have Kofi Cockburn and great guard play, making them a tough ask for anyone.
Scouting the Wolverines:
The one thing you can say about Michigan is that when the Wolverines take good shots, they tend to hit them, as they’re hitting on 47 percent of their shots for the season. Plus, they rebound it well thanks to Hunter Dickinson in the paint, as he’s close to averaging a double-double on the season (16.1 points, 8.8 rebounds per game).
So why aren’t the Wolverines winning? They don’t shoot it enough, and they don’t play the kind of defense that they’ve done in the past. Michigan isn’t good from the arc, and while the Wolverines do deny good looks at the hoop, they commit far too many fouls and tend to give their opponents free points at the stripe. Plus, they’ve started to stray from their defensive principles in denying shots, as both Minnesota and UCF managed to shoot above 50 percent from the field against them. The Knights also had 15 free throws in that win, making up the entire difference between the teams plus a point.
One thing both of those losses had in common was that Michigan started the game well before fading badly down the stretch and watching the opponent speed past them for an easy victory. With that being the case, you might want to take a flier on a first-half bet on the Wolverines, as they’re usually good for 20 minutes.
Scouting the Fighting Illini:
Kofi Cockburn has been a man among boys in the interior, and as long as he’s doing his job, you’re not going to outrebound or outscore Illinois. The Illini now have their identity of feeding Cockburn as often as possible, letting the guards do their thing to take some pressure off of him, and then let him clean things up should a shot go awry. It’s working well, as Alfonso Plummer and Trent Frazier are scoring the ball well enough to keep defenses from doing much of anything against Cockburn.
Illinois is susceptible to a team that shoots the 3-pointer well, as the Illini don’t defend well enough against that to keep someone from sticking around with them. But other than that, there really isn’t a lot for opponents to do to throw Illinois out of its comfort zone. When you have a big man like Cockburn, you’ve got a significant edge.
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Michigan will Cover If: Hunter Dickinson can win the battle against Cockburn and keep the Wolverines within shouting distance. Michigan has no chance if Cockburn takes over the game, so the Wolverines need a solid performance from their own big man to keep this close. Even if Dickinson fights to a draw, that’s good enough.
Illinois will Cover If: The Illini can get good guard play and avoid mistakes. When the Michigan defense is on, the Wolverines can be a frustrating team to face. Illinois has to play its game and avoid the errors that can prove costly against a defensive-minded squad.
Dan’s Best Prop Bets
With Michigan’s defense looking less than stellar lately and Illinois stepping up on the offensive end, 145 should be a reasonable target in this game.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
Michigan is living on its reputation right now, which just isn’t something that’s going to work when facing a hot team like Illinois. The Illini are clicking right now, and the Wolverines simply aren’t. I don’t want any part of Michigan; give me Illinois. Note: Don’t forget to check out our Wildcard Weekend NFL picks!
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