We are on a hot streak right now, seven straight winners if you’ve been loyally reading. Tonight let’s go for eight in the Big Ten with a showdown with #11 Wisconsin and #18 Illinois. The two are tied with Michigan State atop the Big Ten standings, each only suffering two losses inside conference play. Illinois is a seven-point favorite while the total is meandering at 136.5.
Wisconsin has won 8 of their last 9 games and has been riding Johnny Davis (+500 to win the Wooden) all the way to glory. He’s averaging a smooth 22.1 points per game since the dawn of 2022. He’s also been a road warrior, dropping 23.1 on home teams. I’m not sure what Wisconsin would be without him and luckily for me and them, we don’t have to find out.
Illinois got a great news on Saturday when Kofi Cockburn returned to the court after missing two games. In his absence, the red hot Illini (winners of 6 of their previous 7 games), promptly lost on the road to Maryland. They rebounded with a hard-fought, gritty battle with Michigan State. Kofi returned to score 22 of Illinois’ 59 points against Northwestern on 10/17 shooting. The King was back.
Illinois got even more good news this morning when it was announced that Andre Curbelo (COVID protocols) will be available for tonight’s game. He had missed the last two games. Curbelo also had just returned two games previous to that after missing eleven due to a severe concussion. He has experienced what Clint Black once sang of, a “good run of bad luck”. The guy averages 10.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. The wild thing is that Curbelo, Cockburn and Alfonso Plummer (the team’s second leading scorer) have only played in three games together. JUST THREE!
Tonight, I am digging the health of everyone. I’ve liked Illinois a lot this season but it starts with Cockburn and Plummer. Curbelo coming back is a huge strain off that offense when he comes off the bench. I also really liked what Wisconsin has done offensively this season with Davis. In their last 9 games they are putting up 77 points per game. The 66 they scored in their last game against Minnesota was an outlier of their trend in 2021-22. They are also surrendering 72.9 points per in that stretch. Illinois, also in their last 9 games, averages 73 points per game while allowing 65.8 but there are a few of the Big Ten’s worst offense sprinkled in.
The total sits at 136.5 on FanDuel and I think it’s a bargain tonight. I believe the total should be closer to 139. The trends and the play on the court are telling us to take the over. Both teams have had each of their last two games go under BUT overall the OVERS are 25-14-1 (63.8%). Wisconsin had each of their previous 8 hit the over (six in conference action) and Illinois had a run of OVERS going 11-2-1 (5-2-1 in BIG TEN action) previous to the last two. I am on the OVER 136.5 tonight.