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Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Pick, Odds, Prediction 1/4/14

Penn State Nittany Lions (9-5) at Illinois Fighting Illini (12-2)

College Basketball: Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 2:15 pm (State Farm Center)

The Line: Illinois Fighting Illini -8 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds

TV: Big Ten Network

The Illinois Fighting Illini and the Penn State Nittany Lions face off on Saturday in Champaign in a Big Ten college basketball battle.

The Illinois Fighting Illini are quietly 12-2 this season having been battle tested playing the 52nd ranked schedule in the country. Illinois is a perfect 8-0 this season at home and they are 3-1 against teams with a RPI of better than 100. Ryvonte Rice leads the Illini averaging 19 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Tracy Abrams is averaging 13 points, Joseph Bertrand is averaging 11 points and 5.4 rebounds, and Jon Ekey is averaging 8.2 points and 5.8 rebounds. As a team Illinois is averaging 72.1 points and they are shooting 44.5 percent from the field while defensively they are allowing 62.1 points and their opponents are shooting 40.2 percent. Illinois is getting it done primarily with defense but they allowed 80 points on Tuesday in their season opening win against Indiana.

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Pick, Odds, Prediction 1/4/14

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Penn State Nittany Lions have lost two of their last three games including their Big 10 opener against Michigan State. PSU looks to have one of their better teams but they blew a big lead three games back to Princeton before losing in overtime and then were throttled by 16 at home by Sparty. D.J. Newbill leads the Nittany Lions averaging 18.8 points and 5.9 rebounds. Tim Frazier is averaging 17.4 points and 7.3 assists, Ross Travis is averaging 11.4 points and 8.3 rebounds, and Brandon Taylor is averaging 11.3 points and 5.1 rebounds. Penn State is averaging 79.9 points and they are shooting 47.1 percent while defensively they are allowing 73.6 points and their opponents are shooting 41.7 percent. Penn State will need to regroup quickly if they hope to have any success in this spot.

Illinois is 6-2-2 against the spread in their last 10 home games, 2-0-2 against the spread in their last four games, and 1-6-1 against the spread against the Big Ten. Penn State is 4-0-1 against the spread in their last five road games, 13-5-1 against the spread in their last 18 games overall, 9-4-1 against the spread in their last 14 games against a team with a winning record. Penn State is 7-1-1 against the spread in their last nine games at Illinois.

Illinois is one of the more under rated teams and I look for them to come up big in this spot. 

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Illinois -8

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