Big Ten Tournament odds: Minnesota vs. Illinois

It’s a huge game for bubble teams Minnesota and Illinois on Thursday in Chicago, with the winner in good shape for an at-large NCAA bid and earning a date with Indiana on Friday. The loser has to sweat on Selection Sunday. The Gophers opened as 2-point favorites. Check our current lines.

Illinois (21-11, 8-10) enters the tournament having lost two straight and three of four. The Illini fell 68-55 on Sunday at ranked Ohio State. Brandon Paul who led the Illini with 21 points.

Illinois has the most all-time Big Ten Tournament (BTT) wins with 23. The Illini own the second-best all-time BTT winning percentage at .639 (23-13). Illinois has won two BTT championships (2003 and 2005), one of five conference schools to win multiple titles. Illinois also has the second-most BTT championship game appearances, having advanced to the title game six times. Illinois has advanced to the semifinals in all but three Tournaments (2006, 2011-12), with its 12 semifinal appearances the most of any school. Illinois is 15-5 all-time in BTT games at the United Center. The Illini have won eight of their last nine BTT games played at the United Center, winning the tournament title in two of its last three appearances in the Windy City. Illinois has advanced to at least the semifinals in all seven previous BTT at the United Center. Illinois is 3-1 in BTT opening round games.

Minnesota (20-11, 8-10) closed on a two-game losing streak, losing to Nebraska and Purdue, two teams that won’t be playing postseason basketball. The Gophers were blown out at Purdue, 89-73 in their finale. The Boilermakers shot 54.2 percent from the field, 46.7 percent from 3-point range, repeatedly beat Minnesota’s patented full-court press, forced five more turnovers than they committed and even beat the Golden Gophers on the glass. Purdue also finished with a season-high point total, topping the 75-point mark for the first time since Jan. 19 and only the second time since Nov. 16. Minnesota has lost four of its last six overall and eight straight road games since beating Illinois on Jan. 9.

Illinois and Minnesota are meeting in the Big Ten Tournament for the fifth time, with the Illini winning all four previous match-ups. The teams last played in the BTT in 2008, a 54-50 victory by the 10th-seeded Illini over the sixth-seeded Gophers in the semifinals. These teams split in the regular season, each winning on the road. Gophers are 7-5 under Tubby Smith in BTT games.

WagerWeb.com trends: Golden Gophers are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a S.U. loss. Golden Gophers are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 Thursday games. Golden Gophers are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games. Golden Gophers are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record. Fighting Illini are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a ATS loss. Fighting Illini are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games overall. Under is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings. Favorite is 14-6 ATS in the last 20 meetings.

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