From Robbie V...
Detroit at UIC
With their most meaningful weekend of this season upcoming, have to believe there won't be any “look ahead” for Illinois-Chicago tonight. True, Detroit is a Horizon bottom feeder the Flames should defeat and in a normal setting with the league's top two seeds on deck you would probably apply the “look ahead” angle. However, with the league's regular season championship and #1 seed in the conference tournament at stake, can't foresee a slip up here. With nearly four full days off between tonight's game and Friday's match-up against Northern Kentucky, there's no excuse for less than 100% focus & effort in this spot. UIC posted a 78-69 victory at Detroit just 15 days ago in their initial meeting holding the Titans to just 34.8% from the floor including 14.8% from three-point range (Detroit's season low).
Detroit's potential to climb the league's standings ladder not as significant and probably not even that important since the Little Caesar's Arena venue for the tournament (8 miles from campus) may be their biggest asset. Titans up tempo style offense has been forced to overcome their sieve like defense (329th in the nation in KenPom defensive efficiency ratings) but it's sporadic play has led to their 4-11 Horizon ats mark. However, seven of their 11 conference losses have been by less than 10 points which is the current line and they have not lost a game by 10 points this month.
As I said earlier, just don't see any way UIC brings anything less than total focus and full effort tonight. A majority of handicapping factors suggest they can cover this number and maybe a small look in that direction is warranted. Would rather lean toward the “under” 158 for tonight's free play for a few reasons. First, the Flames defense has already overwhelmed Detroit's offense once this season and the personnel suggests they can do it again. HC Steve McClain's squad has the #1 FG% in Horizon League play which includes #1 vs. 2pt FG's, #1 vs 3pt FG's and #1 in blocked shots. On the other side of the coin, the Titans price tags on totals lately have been a bit much as indicated by the 1-6 “under” streak they are on right now. While Illinois-Chicago likes to play with pace, their defense really has been their calling card this season and that should shine through here in this contest.
Recommendation: UNDER 159