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NCAAB game of the night: #5 Michigan vs. Illinois

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December 11th, 2019

No. 5 Michigan will travel to Champaign to take on Illinois Wednesday night, in an early Big Ten test for both teams. Michigan enters off a 103-91 win over Iowa, while Illinois is still stinging from a 59-58 loss to No. 4 Maryland.

#5 Michigan at Illinois, 9 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

Michigan Wolverines
+1.5 (-112)
O 142 (-111)
Illinois Fighting Illini
-1.5 (-108)
U 142 (-109)

Michigan is rolling while Illinois is reeling

Michigan will look to build on the triple-digit offensive effort it put forth against the Hawkeyes. That game came after a 43-point performance in a loss to No. 1 Louisville.

Illinois lost its last two games by a combined three points, and will look to get back on the right track facing another top-five opponent.

Illinois needs a big game from Cockburn

Key to the Illini’s success will likely be the play of freshman Kofi Cockburn, who is averaging a double-double, with 15.4 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.
With help from Cockburn and Andres Feliz, Illinois leads the country in rebounding margin at +15.7 per game. The Illini also leads the Big Ten with 43.4 rebounds per game.

This will be the first time Illinois has consecutive games against top-five teams since the 2005 Final four.

Michigan is leaning heavily on his starting five

While Michigan’s defense will look to contain Cockburn, the Wolverines offense will rely on its starters. Michigan’s starting five of Zavier Simpson, Eli Brooks, Franz Wagner, Isaiah Livers and Jon Teske has made up 72% of the Wolverines’ scoring on the season.

If Simpson starts Wednesday it will be his 126th straight start. He hasn’t missed a game in four seasons. He’s having another big year for Michigan and ranks second nationally averaging 8.7 assists per game, which leads the Big Ten.

I think Michigan will get it done and hand Illinois its fourth loss.

NCAAB free pick: Michigan -1.5

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