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College Basketball Betitng Odds & Picks for Michigan vs. Illinois: Back Wolverines at Big Number (March 2)

College Basketball Betitng Odds & Picks for Michigan vs. Illinois: Back Wolverines at Big Number (March 2) article feature image

Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: Hunter Dickinson.

  • Updated odds list Michigan as a big favorite over Illinois in a crucial Big Ten clash on Tuesday night.
  • The Wolverines are led by big man Hunter Dickinson, who has picked up right where he left off after the team shut down for COVID-19 protocols.
  • Mike Randle breaks down why he's betting Michigan, even as heavy home favorites.

Illinois vs. Michigan Odds

Illinois Odds
Michigan Odds
+333 / -450
Time | TV
7 p.m. ET | ESPN
Odds as of Monday Night and via BetMGM.

Tuesday night brings us a colossal college basketball matchup between No. 4 Illinois and No. 2 Michigan. The Illini and Wolverines are the top-two teams in the Big Ten Conference.

Illinois can still technically earn a share of the regular-season title if it wins its last three games and Michigan loses its remaining contests. Michigan can clinch the outright Big Ten crown with a win, its first since 2013-14.

Who should bettors back in this matchup of potential No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament?

The Matchup 

The key question entering this game surrounds the health of Player of the Year candidate and Illini star, Ayo Dosunmu. The 6-foot-5 guard is having a monstrous year, averaging 21 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists while shooting 40% from beyond the arc. Dosumu is still listed as day to day due to a facial injury suffered a week ago against Michigan State.

The Illini would greatly benefit if Dosunmu is available, as they battle a Michigan team that is playing as well as any team in the country. Even after their three-week COVID-19 break, the Wolverines have dominated the competition with five straight wins by an average of 11.6 points.

Michigan has elite metrics on both sides of the ball. The Wolverines rank fifth in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency and fourth in adjusted defensive efficiency per KenPom. The Wolverines shoot 39% from 3-point range, 55.4% from inside the arc, as well as a solid 77.6% from the free throw line.

They also are incredibly balanced, not over reliant on any one specific aspect of offense. Michigan has generated only 30.9% of their Big Ten points from 3-point land and a modest 17% from the free throw line. They have talent in every possible area of offense, which is why they are such a tough matchup defensively. 

The key to their offense has been center Hunter Dickinson. The 7-foot-1 freshman has been one of the best players in the conference and has five consecutive games with 10 or more points and seven or more rebounds.  Dickinson’s incredible efficiency (62.1 percent shooting) has contributed to a Michigan offense that ranks 22nd in the country from inside the arc.

Michigan head coach Juwan Howard surrounds Dickinson with fantastic perimeter scorers that are strong from 3-point range. Seniors Isaiah Livers (45.6 percent), Eli Brooks (36.1%) and Mike Smith (47.8%), join sophomore Franz Wagner (37.1%) to provide superior long-distance accuracy. Illinois’ main defensive weakness is against the 3-ball, where they rank 10th in the Big Ten at defending beyond the arc (34.8% allowed).

Illinois can match the Wolverines statistically, ranking 10th in offense and 16th in defensive efficiency. The Illini are also superior from 3-point range, averaging 38.1% as a team, while also shooting 55.7% from inside the arc.

Head coach Brad Underwood has one of the few players who can match up with Dickinson, in 7-foot center Kofi Cockburn (17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds).

When Dosunmu is healthy, Underwood can deploy an explosive multi-guard attack with Dosunmu, Trent Frazier (10.4 points, 38.7% 3-pointers), Adam Miller (8.5 points, 34% 3-pointers), and freshman Andre Curbelo (8.1 points, 4.2 assists). 

However, even with all their weapons, the Illini have struggled with consistency against inferior opponents. They lost at home to Maryland 66-63, and needed overtime on the road to defeat Indiana and Nebraska. Michigan simply hasn’t experienced those kinds of underwhelming performances. 

Illinois is 14-9-1 against the spread (ATS), including 6-4 on the road. However, Michigan is one of the best cover teams in college basketball at 15-4 overall, including 9-3 as the home team. 

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Illinois is a fantastic team, and more than capable of defeating Michigan, but they aren’t playing at full capacity. If Dosunmu plays, he will likely be below his normal elite level, something that Illinois will need to compete with the Wolverines.

Michigan has scored huge home wins over the Big Ten’s best teams. They defeated Wisconsin by 22 points, Maryland by 24 points, and Iowa by 22 points. If the Illini were healthy, they would be a great pick. But timing, and a healthy Dosunmu, make all the difference.

I’ll take the Wolverines at home to earn another double-digit win, adding fuel to the argument that they are indeed the best team in the country.

Pick: Michigan -8.5

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