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Big Ten Conference Tournament 1st Round Betting Preview

The Big Ten Tournament begins Wednesday, as a quartette of struggling teams try to continue their seasons. Minnesota takes on Illinois and Rutgers does battle with Nebraska.

Tournament to be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (-8, 136.5)

* The Golden Gophers are no stranger to adversity and are down to eight players after losing Joey King to a broken foot, dismissing senior guard Carlos Morris and suspending three others in recent weeks. Minnesota dropped both meetings with Illinois this season and was embarrassed its last time out, falling 75-52 at Rutgers on Saturday to end the Scarlet Knights’ 32-game losing streak in Big Ten action.

* Illinois has been without three projected starters for the bulk of the season due to injury or suspension and seven different players have combined to miss nearly 100 games so far this year, contributing to the Illini’s 5-6 record in contests decided by five points or fewer. Hill has been a bright spot, however, and is one of only three Division I players to lead his team in scoring (18.6), rebounding (6.6), assists (3.3), steals (1.1) and blocks (0.5), and is coming off a career-high 39-point, 13-board masterpiece in Sunday’s 86-79 double-overtime loss at Penn State.

Betting Stats:

Minnesota – 8-22 SU, 10-18 ATS, 16-12 O/U
Illinois – 13-18 SU, 12-14-3 ATS, 14-14-1 O/U

Trends:

* Minnesota is 0-5 ATS in its last five neutral site games.
* Illinois is 1-7-1 ATS in its last nine neutral site games.
* Over is 5-1 in Minnesota’s last six neutral site games.
* Over is 8-2 in Illinois’ last 10 games following an ATS loss.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (-14.5, 139.5)

* The Scarlet Knights’ misery in Big Ten play continued for nearly another month after their second defeat of the season to Nebraska before they ended a 17-game losing streak and 32-game conference skid in Saturday’s 75-52 home romp of Minnesota. Sophomore guard Mike Williams (12.2 points) sparked the Scarlet Knights off the bench with career highs of six 3-pointers and 29 points Saturday, ending a four-game stretch in which he shot 3-of-13 beyond the arc and failed to reach double figures.

* Nebraska encountered two three-game losing streaks early in conference play, and both times, Rutgers provided a soft landing. The high point of the Cornhuskers’ up-and-down regular season was a four-game winning streak that began on Jan. 9 with a 90-56 rout at Rutgers, which gave Nebraska its largest margin of victory in a road game since 1920. The Cornhuskers enjoyed a similar result in the rematch on Feb. 6, cruising to an 87-63 victory in a contest in which second-team all-conference selection Shavon Shields suffered a concussion that cost him the next four games and contributed to the their season-ending slide.

Betting Stats:

Rutgers – 7-24 SU, 10-16 ATS, 17-9 O/U
Nebraska – 14-17 SU, 14-12 ATS, 15-10-1 O/U

Trends:

* Rutgers is 1-5 ATS in its last six games overall.
* Nebraska is 1-4 ATS in its last five games overall.
* Over is 20-5-1 in Rutgers’ last 26 versus Big Ten opponents.
* Under is 6-1 in Nebraska’s last seven games overall.