UPDATE: As of 11:15 a.m. Saturday, here are the updated betting splits for the Big Ten Semifinals:
Ohio State: +6.5, 40% of action, 48% of bets
Michigan: -6.5 60% of action, 52% of bets *
Iowa: +4 14% of action, 27% of bets
Illinois: -4 86% of action, 73% of bets
The Big Ten Tournament has provided some fascinating end-of-game scenarios as we head into the weekend. Combine that with a good ol’ fashion hold-me-back screaming fest between coaches and this tournament is just heating up.
In the first game of the day, the Michigan Wolverines will take on the Ohio State Buckeyes at 1 p.m. ET. Michigan head coach Juwan Howard will be back on the sideline after being ejected in the quarterfinal game, a 79-66 win over the Maryland Terrapins. He will lead one of the best teams in college basketball, both on the offensive and defensive end, against an Ohio State that barely survived their quarterfinal game. The Buckeyes let an 18-point lead slip away in Friday’s win over the Purdue Boilermakers but left with an 87-78 overtime victory.
In Game 2, the Illinois Fighting Illini will take on National Player of The Year Luka Garza and the Iowa Hawkeyes with the winner heading to Sunday’s conference title. Illinois handled the Rutgers Scarlet Knights with ease in Friday’s quarterfinal round with a 90-68 win as Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn combined for 41 points. Iowa beat Wisconsin for the third time this season 62-57 on Friday. Luka Garza went for 24 points and nine rebounds for the Hawkeyes.
Let’s take a look at all the action from the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 5 Ohio State, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Point Spread: Michigan -6
Point Total: 146
The Wolverines rank inside the top five in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency and while Ohio State can say the same for their offense, they need a lot of work on the defensive end, which is No. 78 in the country. That’s where the difference will be in this game because Michigan is tremendously difficult to defend. The Wolverines will be fired up for this game after Friday’s controversy involving their head coach and perform better than oddsmakers suggest.
The pick: Michigan -6
No 2. Illinois vs. No. 3 Iowa, approximately 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Point Spread: Illinois -4
Point Total: 157
These are two of the top seven offenses in college basketball according to Ken Pom, and played an 80-75 win for the Illini on January 23rd in Champaign. Garza vs. Cockburn is one of the best big man matchups you’ll see in college basketball.
The MVP of that first game however was Trent Frazier, who had 24 points for I-L-L, which is his season high. These teams do know how to defend each other at a high level, but three games in three days tends to make the steps a bit slower on one end of the floor and the benches a bit deeper and available for scoring. Let’s ride with a shootout in Lucas Oil Stadium in what should be a classic.
The pick: Over 157
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