Crean's crew eyes bounce-back effort vs. Illini
Mired in a three-game losing streak, Indiana is clearly having trouble handling the early rigors of Big Ten play. Will upstart Illinois compound the Hoosiers’ problems this afternoon?
The two schools meet in Bloomington at 5 p.m. ET. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives Tom Crean’s troops odds of -700 to snap their skid. Conversely, the Fighting Illini enter Assembly Hall as +525 underdogs.
After a fast start to the season, No. 25 IU has fallen to Nebraska, Louisville and Nebraska and Wisconsin in succession. Tuesday’s 75-68 defeat at the hands of the Badgers was particularly jarring. Dynamic junior James Blackmon Jr. mostly watched teammates blow defensive rotations, which allowed Greg Gard’s bunch to run wild in the second half.
Meanwhile, the picture’s a lot sunnier for the people of Champaign. Despite slipping up in last week’s conference opener against Maryland, Malcolm Hill & Co. responded with a 75-70 takedown of Ohio State. The senior guard’s currently the league’s second-leading scorer with 18.7 points per contest.
Unfortunately, the Fighting Illini’s last victory over Indiana came on March 13, 2014. With the Terrapins and Michigan State Spartans looming on the schedule, too, the Hoosiers can’t afford another setback. Lean toward the hosts to rebound in a major way.
SATURDAY NCAA FREE PICK: INDIANA -11