Stephen Nover Free CBB Tuesday Play

On December 19, 2017, in Free Picks, NCAAB, by Stephen

Illinois Chicago plus 10 1/2 at Illinois State

This isn’t so much a play on Illinois-Chicago as it is a fade on Illinois State laying double-digits in a huge letdown spot.

The Redbirds upset Mississippi, 101-97, in overtime on the road this past Saturday. It was a dramatic and great victory for the Redbirds.

So Illinois State can’t be blamed for taking lightly regarded Illinois-Chicago lightly. The Redbirds also have a far more important game on deck when they open Missouri Valley Conference against Evansville on Saturday.

Illinois State isn’t good enough to cover a margin this big against a Horizon League team without being focused and playing well. As a rule, I don’t like to lay big numbers with a Missouri Valley Conference team since it’s a conference known for defense and slow tempo.

Plus the Redbirds just aren’t that good. They surrender nearly 77 points a game and are one of the weakest rebounding teams in Division I ranking 339th out of 351 teams. They upset MIssissippi by playing five guards in overtime. That was a good shock tactic, but it won’t hold up for an entire game.

Illinois State upset another SEC team, South Carolina, last month. The Redbirds then lost 82-64 to Boise State in their next game.

Again, my handicap is nearly entirely based on a projected letdown factor from Illinois State. But Illinois-Chicago is 2-1 in its last three games and off a win against Dartmouth. The Flames have a top shot-blocker in Tai Odiase. He is the Flames’ career-leader in blocked shots with 281, which is the second-highest active career total among Division I players.


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