Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:45 AM EST odds are subject to change.
Illinois @ Northwestern +15
Ryan Field – Evanston, IL
3:30 PM ET. We know what you are thinking, who on Earth would bet a team that has only one win on the year? A win which was not even attained in the geographic United States, no less. However, our mission as handicappers is to find value in obscure places; to look out for an inflated number and make a case to back the side that the market is so heavily tilted against. Henceforth, welcome the Northwestern Wildcats to the stage.
Last week, the #21 Illinois Fighting Illini played their hearts out in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As a 17-point underdog, the Illini took a 17-10 lead into the fourth quarter and didn’t allow Michigan into the end zone in the final frame. Yet, the Illini lost 19-17 by way of a Michigan field goal that edged the Wolverines to the front with nine ticks remaining. The loss was nothing short of demoralizing, that being squandering a program-defining victory in the final seconds. Illinois also saw its B1G Championship Game hopes evaporate, as well. This eventuality came by way of a controversial no-call on 4th and 3 that had skipper Bret Bielema calling out referees for a missed offensive pass interference call on Michigan which enabled the Wolverines to convert and get in position to steal the win. Now, after such a gut-wrenching loss with such significant consequences, the Illini are asked to play the role of the road favorite. A position we love to fade, even more so when said team steps in off a bitter loss and is asked to lay an enhanced tag.
Impressed by what it saw last week, the market saw the opening line here (-12) as an opportunity to spot reasonable points and now we find the ‘Cats taking back nearly an extra field goal after the efficient market got a hold of it. This signals overreaction before we factor in that the Illini go from a 17-point pup last week to a 14½-point favorite, this week. The 31½-point swing in conference is rare and also reinforces the inflated points position that we’re taking. Furthermore, the low over/under total of 38 would also suggest laying points of this quantity would not be conducive.
In case you were wondering, NW’s 10 losses this year included a loss to Duke by 8, to Ohio State by 14, at Illinois by 7 (31-24) earlier this year when the Illini were in a much better frame of mind, at Penn State by 10, to Maryland by 7 and @ Pursue by 8. Betting Illinois here is playing into a laundry list of bad practices. Northwestern has been extremely competitive and now we catch better than 14 points at home with them against a mentally wounded invader. An upset is on the table.
Northwestern +15 -106 (Risking 2.12 units - To Win: 2.00)