Why No. 5 Illinois has something to prove against Northwestern tonight

Create: 2021-02-16
Update: 2021-02-16
Score: 7
Safe: No
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Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Happy Tuesday, everybody. As you read this, I am probably watching Champions League soccer, and I'm doing so gingerly because, oh my god, am I sore today. You see, Tuesdays are my "day off." While I do the research and write this newsletter on Tuesdays, this is my only work responsibility for the day. So I began my Tuesday the same way I begin every Tuesday.
I dragged my big ass over to the Peloton and rode for 45 minutes. The difference this week is that after riding the bike, I had more work to do. As has been the case so often lately, I woke up to a brand new foot of snow having been dumped on my sidewalks and backyards. You can see what I walked out to in my backyard this morning here.
Well, after riding the bike and clearing out eleventy billion tons of snow (rough estimate), I am sore. So I'm taking the rest of the day to take care of my body, and the best way to do that is to spend the afternoon watching people who could do all the work I did this morning and not feel the need to complain about it afterward.
Another way to soothe sore muscles is to read. I'm not sure if there's any science to back that statement up, but I'm sure it's true if you believe in it enough.
  • OK, so reading this isn't soothing to me at all.
  • Is J.J. Watt looking to join the Browns?
  • So what landing spots for Andre Drummond make sense?
OK, let's make some money and then use that money to hire people to shovel for me next time.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Northwestern at No. 5 Illinois, 9 p.m. | TV: Big Ten Network
The Pick: Illinois -12.5 (-110)
: There's been a certain rhythm to Illinois basketball this season. The Illini might be ranked at No. 5 in the AP Poll, and they deserve to be, but there's some inconsistency in their play. They enter tonight's game having won five straight, but played terribly in a 77-72 overtime win against Nebraska last week. Had they been playing any other team in the Big Ten -- including Northwestern -- they'd have lost that game. That's horrible news for Northwestern tonight.
When Illinois plays poorly, it tends to bounce back in its next game. After losing to Baylor in December, it responded with a 15-point win at Duke. Following a three-point loss to rival Mizzou, it beat Minnesota by 27. After losing to Rutgers by three, it beat Penn State on the road by 17. Tonight it's facing a Northwestern team it beat by 25 earlier this season (it held the Wildcats to 13 points in the second half that night). It's the much better team, but it has a point to prove after a lackluster performance as it chases a Big Ten title and a possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Back the Illini.
Key Trend: Northwestern is 2-8-1 ATS in its last 11 games as an underdog.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model thinks it knows Illinois basketball better than I do. It doesn't. OK, it might. We disagree on the spread, but the spread isn't what the computer likes most about tonight's affair.
💰 The Picks
🏀 College Basketball
Nebraska at Maryland, 7 p.m. | TV: Big Ten Network
The Pick: Maryland -10 (-110) -- 
As somebody dealing with their own set of tired legs right now, I empathize with Nebraska's position. The Cornhuskers are coming off a win over Penn State on Sunday, which ended a nine-game losing streak. It was also the team's fifth game in eight days, and tonight will be its sixth game in 10 days.
If you watched Nebraska's win over Penn State, you know that it only managed to score eight points over the final 10 minutes as it clung to its lead. It scored only 27 points in the second half. Nebraska is a tired team. Maryland is not. Maryland played on Sunday too, but that was its first game in six days. Oh, and this is the first of a back-to-back, as these teams will play again on Wednesday night. We're taking the Terps tonight, and don't be shocked if we take them again tomorrow.
Key Trend: Nebraska is only 2-6 ATS in its last eight road games.
⚽ Champions League
Juventus vs. Porto, Wednesday, 3 p.m. | TV: CBS All Access
The Pick: Cristiano Ronaldo to score a goal (+105) -- 
I'm not sure I even need to go all that in-depth on the explanation as to why I'm betting on Ronaldo to score a goal, but I will. Juventus' attack is basically structured around Ronaldo, and why wouldn't it be? He's one of the greatest to ever play the sport. He also loves the bright lights and big stage, which is why he's scored 134 goals in 169 career Champions League starts. That includes four goals in Juventus' last three Champions League matches. On the season, across all competitions, Ronaldo has played in 32 matches with Juventus. He's scored 26 of the 69 goals (37.7%) the team has scored in them.
Also, Juventus manager Andrea Pirlo has used Ronaldo a bit more centrally than he's been utilized in the past, which allows him to "rest" a bit more during matches, and keeps him in prime scoring position around the penalty area. Plus, you know, he's Ronaldo. So he'll be taking any free kicks or penalties Juventus might get during this match. 
Key Trend: Between club and country, Ronaldo has scored more goals than anybody in the history of the universe.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The SportsLine Projection Model simulated the PGA 2021 Genesis Invitational 10,000 times and came up with a shocking leaderboard.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Even with multiple lineups, I'm going to have Giannis, Dame and Michael Porter in all of them and fill out from there tonight.
Star Plays
PG: Damian Lillard, Blazers
SG: James Harden, Nets
SF: LeBron James, Lakers
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
C: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets
Value Plays
PG: Jamal Murray, Nuggets
SG: Donte DiVincenzo, Bucks
SF: Michael Porter, Nuggets
PF: JaMychal Green, Nuggets
C: Enes Kanter, Blazers
Full lineup advice
Get winning NBA DFS picks from SportsLine pros Mike McClure and Jacob Gibbs. McClure has won almost $2 million in daily Fantasy, while Gibbs crushed the NBA last season, cashing around 65 percent of the time in cash games and nearly 45 percent of the time in tournaments. See their DraftKings advice and FanDuel lineups here. 
 🏀 NBA Player Props
  • Michael Porter Jr. Over 15.5 points (-105)
  • Robert Covington Over 6.5 rebounds (-135)
  • Robert Covington Over 1.5 assists (-125)
  • Dennis Schroder Over 3.5 assists (-160)
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