Jack's Free Pick Thursday!
Illinois vs. Penn State,
01/19/2012 21:00 EDT,
Score: 52 - 54
Point Spread: -2½/-107 Illinois
Illinois is one of the best teams in the Big Ten this year. The Fighting Illini should be laying a larger number tonight against one of the worst teams in the conference. Penn State stands little chance of keeping this one close Thursday night.
Illinois is off to a 15-3 start this season. What's most impressive is what they have done in conference play here recently. The Fighting Illini have opened 4-1 within the conference, including a huge win over Big Ten favorite Ohio State. Their three losses have all come on the road this season to No. 5 Missouri, No. 14 UNLV and to Purdue. They have only lost one game they were favored in.
Penn State is clearly down this season. The Nittany Lions are 9-10 on the year, including 4-8 ATS in all lined games. They have opened 1-5 SU & 1-4-1 ATS in conference play, which includes double-digit losses to Michigan, Northwestern, Nebraska and Minnesota. This team is simply not on the same level as Illinois.
This play falls into a system that is 63-27 (70%) ATS since 1997. It tells us to bet against home teams as an underdog or pick (PENN ST) - off a loss against a conference rival against opponent off 2 consecutive close wins by 5 or less over a conference rival. The Illini come in with a ton of confidence after their win over Ohio State, and they've had eight days off to prepare for the Nittany Lions. Bet Illinois Thursday.