No. 2 Michigan Can Secure Big Ten Title With A Win Against Illinois

Written By Drew Ellis on March 2, 2021
Michigan odds

It feels like No. 2 Michigan can’t go long without having a major game these days.

After impressively dispatching a pair of top-10 programs last week, the Wolverines have another marquee opponent on Tuesday night.

Michigan plays host to No. 4 Illinois and a win locks up the Big Ten Conference regular-season title.

Are the Wolverines set to pull out another impressive win? Let’s take a closer look at the odds for Illinois vs. Michigan.

Illinois vs. Michigan odds at MI sportsbooks


Michigan (18-1, 13-1 Big Ten) and Illinois (18-6, 14-4) will tip off on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET from the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor. Basketball fans can catch the game live on ESPN.

Online sportsbooks are backing Michigan once again. Early lines list the Wolverines as an 8.5-point home favorite against the Illini.

The over/under is currently listed at 146.5 points.

These two are meeting for the first time this season, but Illinois has won and covered the spread in the last two meetings. They also have hit the under in the last two encounters.

Michigan moves to No. 2 in NCAA rankings

It was another great week for University of Michigan basketball.

Last week, the Wolverines earned a 92-87 win at Ohio State, a 79-57 win over Iowa, and a 73-57 win at Indiana.

The Wolverines covered the spread in all three wins to move to an impressive 15-4 ATS for the season. Take note, MI sports betting fans.

Surprisingly, for being a high-powered offensive team (78.8 ppg), Michigan has hit the under in five of their last six games.

The wins, combined with Baylor suffering its first loss of the season, have the Wolverines moving up to No. 2 in this week’s Top 25 polls. Only unbeaten Gonzaga (24-0) stands in front of them.

Michigan is looking like a likely No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, too. DraftKings Sportsbook lists the Wolverines at -10000 to be a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday. Both Baylor and Gonzaga have the same odds.

A win on Tuesday gives Michigan the Big Ten title, as Illinois sits a game back with just two games remaining. The Wolverines will have two meetings with Michigan State this week.

DraftKings lists U-M at +145 to win the Big Ten currently. That’s a far cry from their +1100 odds to open the season.

Defense leading to offense for U-M

Following Saturday’s win at Indiana, Michigan has now won seven straight while going 6-1 against the spread in the process.

Defense has been a big part of that. Outside of the 92-87 classic with Ohio State, the Wolverines have held the other six opponents below 65 points.

Michigan now ranks 55th nationally in scoring defense, giving up just 65.2 points per game. The Wolverines hold opponents to just 38.4% shooting, which ranks fourth nationally.

As the defense has improved, the offense continues to flourish as well. Michigan still ranks in the top 20 nationally in field goal percentage (49.7%) and 3-point percentage (39.0).

Michigan has a three-headed monster that has led the way this season. Hunter Dickinson, Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner all average over 13 points and 6 rebounds per game.

Dickinson has to be a leading candidate for Big Ten Freshman of the Year, if not National Freshman of the Year. He is shooting 62.1 percent from the field and also averages 1.6 blocks per game.

The scoring depth runs six-players deep, as Mike Smith, Eli Brooks and Chaundee Brown each average over 8 points per game as well.

Will Illinois give Michigan its second loss?

While the nation is fawning over Michigan, No. 4 Illinois is eager to crash the party. Until a surprising 81-72 loss at Michigan State last week, the Illini were just as hot as the Wolverines.

Illinois has followed up the loss with wins over Nebraska and Wisconsin and are still in the running for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Illini have covered in their last two wins and are 14-9-1 ATS for the season. They are also 14-9-1 with the over, hitting it in four straight.

Like Michigan, Illinois has been one of the nation’s top offenses this season. The Illini rank 17th in scoring (81.2 ppg) and ninth in shooting (50.1 percent).

Defensively, Illinois is giving up 69.2 points per game while holding opponents to 41.1% shooting.

It’s been largely a two-man show for Illinois behind guard Ayo Dosunmu and center Kofi Cockburn.

Dosunmu has been one of the top contenders for the John R. Wooden Award this season. He averages 21 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. Dosunmu isn’t likely to surpass Iowa’s Luka Garza for the honor, but that may just motivate him to a strong March.

Cockburn has been one of the best centers in the country. He is averaging 17.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per contest this season.

Dosunmu has missed the last few games due to a facial injury he suffered against the Spartans. He is listed as questionable for Tuesday night against Michigan.

If looking to wager on this NCAA basketball game, be sure to stay tuned into Dosunmu’s status. Without him, it’s hard to see Illinois keeping pace with Michigan’s offense.

Photo by AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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