Syracuse Travels To Louisville In Big East Battle
By: Matty Simo
Saturday, February 11, 2012
The Illiniois Fighting Illini might just play themselves out of an NCAA tournament bid if they continue to struggle down the stretch. For the second year in a row, Illinois (16-8 overall, 5-6 in conference play) appears to be hitting a wall at around the same time with five losses in six games both straight-up and against the spread. They will try to turn things around on Sunday when they visit the 22nd-ranked Michigan Wolverines (18-7, 8-4) in a Big Ten battle that tips off at 1:00 p.m. (ET) and will be televised on CBS.
Last year, Illinois dropped five of seven to fall to 15-8 and then split its last eight of the regular season before losing to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament. The Illini still got into the NCAA tournament as one of seven teams from the league to receive invitations along with the Wolverines even though both teams finished with 9-9 conference records.
Michigan has not faced Illinois yet this season and split two meetings a year ago with the total going ‘under’ each time. The Wolverines are a perfect 13-0 at home but have alternated wins and losses in their past nine games overall. However, five of their last six games have been on the road with the lone home win during that stretch coming on February 1 against the Indiana Hoosiers, 68-56.
Another team looking to break out of a slump on Sunday is the St. John’s Red Storm (10-14, 4-8) as they visit the 12th-ranked Georgetown Hoyas (18-5, 8-4) at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN. The Red Storm has lost three of four and seven of nine with the past two setbacks decided by a combined 47 points.
One of those recent blowout losses for St. John’s came last Saturday at home by the score of 95-70 against the second-ranked Syracuse Orange (24-1, 11-1) who also edged Georgetown 64-61 in overtime on Wednesday. Like the Orange, the Hoyas routed the Red Storm 69-49 at Madison Square Garden in the first meeting between the teams on January 15.
Syracuse will be coming off a home game against the defending national champion Connecticut Huskies (15-8, 5-6) on Saturday when the team travels for a road matchup with the 24th-ranked Louisville Cardinals (19-5, 7-4) in the first game of ESPN’s Big Monday doubleheader at 7:00 p.m. (ET). The Orange are 6-1 ATS on the road this season but have lost the last seven meetings with the Cardinals, going 0-6-1 ATS.
Louisville had won five in a row both SU and ATS heading into Saturday’s road game against the West Virginia Mountaineers (16-9, 6-6) after going 1-3 in its previous four. The ‘over’ was 5-1 in the team’s last six before the West Virginia game and has cashed in three straight at home.
The second game of ESPN’s Big Monday doubleheader pits the Kansas State Wildcats (17-6, 6-5) against the 10th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks (19-5, 9-2) in Big 12 action at 9:00 p.m. (ET). Kansas won the first meeting at home 67-49 back on January 4 as a 10-point favorite during a 10-game winning streak and had since split its last four before hosting the Oklahoma State Cowboys (12-12, 5-6) on Saturday.
The Wildcats had won consecutive games following a two-game skid before visiting the Texas Longhorns (15-9, 5-6) on Saturday, but they have gone 1-4 ATS in their past five at home. They covered the spread in a 65-46 rout of the Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-16, 0-11) on Tuesday as 18-point favorites. The ‘under’ was 5-1 in Kansas State’s last six games prior to Saturday.