Rutgers at Illinois
Recommendation: First half Under 68
Rutgers, who has struggled to score for much of the season, will be without the Big Ten's top "usage" player in Corey Sanders (suspended). Sanders leads the Scarlet Knights in virtually every offensive statistical category and netted 39 points in the team's triple OT loss to Illinois two weeks ago. It's not just Sanders' point production that will be missed but also a player who dominates the ball throughout the game. I think a lot of Sanders' production is of the de facto variety but his absence will likely be felt. As for Illinois, injuries have become such a problem that the team is now experimenting with Malcolm Hill at point guard. Hill is Illinois' top offensive weapon and rather than playing him off the ball and working to get him shots, he's being asked to run the offense and score. The move didn't exactly pan out on Saturday as Hill failed to reach double-digits for the first time this season and the Illini were held to a season-low 56 at Northwestern. So why did this total get steamed from 141.5 to 145? Well, you have two of the league's worst defenses involved for starters. Rutgers has allowed 75 points or more in every Big Ten game but one. Illinois has put up a little more resistance, especially of late, holding its last six opponents to 65 ppg in regulation. In the first meeting, Sanders and Hill combined for 52 field goal attempts and 33 free throws. With Sanders out and Hill playing out of position, it's reasonable to think there won't be as much offensive efficiency from two squads that already average below a point per possession in league play. I do have concerns that due to the lack of depth for both squads, defense could suffer late in the game as players try to avoid foul trouble. I think the best way to look is play the first half under.