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Midwest Hoops Report

   by ASA - 01/25/2012

Each week we will take an inside look at the pulse of College Basketball around the Big Ten and other schools around the Midwest. We will highlight certain trends, hot streaks, cold streaks, and injury updates. A number of things caught our attention as professional handicappers this week. We’d like to share some…

Big Ten

Illinois Fighting Illini: As expected, the Illini suffered a letdown after a huge win over highly ranked Ohio State two weeks ago. First they shot just 34.7% and scored 52 points in a loss at lowly Penn State. Then they dropped their first home game of the season against Wisconsin on Sunday. Center Meyers Leonard (ankle) and guard DJ Richardson are both dealing with injuries right now yet neither is expected to miss any time. Leonard and Richardson combine to average 26.2 points per game and 11.2 rebounds per game and Illinois could really use them at full strength down the stretch.

Minnesota Gophers: The Gophers are climbing their way back into the upper-echelon of the Big Ten with three straight victories (3-0 ATS) after dropping their first four Big Ten conference games. Minnesota has made 52.6% field goals during the three-game win streak while holding opponents to just 35.3%.

Northwestern Wildcats: Northwestern has dropped six of its last eight games and is just 3-6 ATS over its last nine overall. The Wildcats are 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS on the road in the Big Ten and they’ve lost all four of those games by an average of 19.5 points per game (three of four losses by 20+ points). Northwestern is converting on just 38.8% of its field goals and allowing opponents to shoot 46.6% in those four games.

Penn State Nittany Lions: Penn State has dropped six of eight conference games so far including three of the last four by double digits. It’s only going to get tougher as PSU recently lost reserve guard Trey Lewis for an indefinite amount of time and forward Billy Oliver has missed the last two games with an illness and it’s uncertain when he will return. The Lions weren’t a deep team to begin with and now their bench is even thinner. PSU could struggle as the next four games on its schedule are; at Ohio State, home vs. Wisconsin, at Iowa, and at Michigan State.

Purdue Boilermakers: Purdue lost another home game on Tuesday against Michigan. The Boilers have now dropped four of the last six games and is 1-5 ATS over that span. They are ninth in the Big Ten in shooting percentage at just 43.7% and last in the Big Ten in free throw percentage at just 63.2%.

Wisconsin Badgers: After losing three straight Big Ten games it looked as though the Badgers would be out of the running for the Big Ten title. Since then, however, Wisco has won four straight games and is back up to fourth place, just a game behind Michigan (3-1 ATS). The Badgers have held the last four opponents to just 38.6% field goals and 30% three-pointers and have also made 59 free throws while opponents have attempted just 58.

News & Notes from other teams around the Midwest

Cleveland State Vikings: The Vikings are tied with Valparaiso atop the Horizon league standings. Starting Saturday, Cleveland State starts a three-game road trip over an eight day span. The Vikes will be favored in each of the three road games as they’re playing teams with a combined record of 22-35. However, they are just 1-5 ATS as a favorite away from home this season.

Dayton Flyers: Dayton continues its ascension up the Atlantic 10 standings despite being without its best player for the past month. Since center Josh Benson was injured, the Flyers are 4-1 SU & ATS. Their offensive philosophy has changed as the Flyers are now using a more up-tempo approach – very successfully. In 14 games with Benson, the Flyers averaged 68.5 points per game and in five games without him, they’re averaging 81 PPG.

Iowa State Cyclones: Iowa State continues to be a valuable team against the spread. The Cyclones have covered five of seven Big 12 games and own a 4-1 ATS mark as an underdog. They have a key pair of games coming up with home dates against Kansas and Kansas State which will determine if ISU is a real contender for a tournament bid. Expect a huge effort from the Cyclones.

Kansas Jayhawks: Be weary of Kansas. The Jayhawks have won 10 straight games dating back to mid-December, but they are getting overvalued by the oddsmakers. They’ve failed to cover three of their last four games and are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games as a double-digit favorite.

Kansas State Wildcats: Forward Jordan Henriquez has been suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team. The 6’11” Henriquez averaged 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds and led the team in blocks.

Marquette Golden Eagles: Marquette has won five games in a row and is 6-1 ATS over its last seven overall. Four of the Golden Eagles’ last five wins have been at home by an average of 13.8 points per game. They’ve found a nice inside presence lately as sophomore forward Davante Gardner has stepped up nicely over the last five games, averaging 13.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game (averaged just 8.8 PPG and 5.0 RPG over first 16 games).

Missouri Tigers: The Tigers proved their ultimate legitimacy after losing its first and only game in blowout fashion at Kansas State back on January 7th. Since then they’ve won four straight games (4-0 ATS) including a big road win at Baylor last Saturday. All the talk about Missouri focuses on their guards, but forward Ricardo Ratliffe is averaging 21.6 points per game over the last three games. The 6-8 senior had 27 points and eight rebounds in the Tigers' win at Baylor on Saturday and is shooting 77.2 percent on the season!

Murray State Racers: Murray State is now 20-0 and the last remaining undefeated team in the nation. The pressure of the record seems to be weighing on the Racers, however, as they are just 1-4-1 ATS the last six games. They are about to get some good news as coach Steve Prohm says forward Ivan Aska (hand injury) has been cleared to play. The team’s second leading scorer will be a welcome addition.

Wright State Raiders: Wright State is not a strong offensive team. The Raiders rank at or near the bottom of every major offensive category including 332nd in points and 323rd in field goal percentage. Now, their only player that averages double-figures has been unable to practice for the past week because of a calf injury and is questionable heading into Wednesday’s game against Illinois-Chicago.

ATS Tidbits

· Bradley is just 1-12 its last 13 games, but 3-0 its last three as a home ‘dog

· Evansville is 9-1 ATS its last 10 games

· Indiana State is 0-7 ATS its last seven games

· Missouri State is 6-3 ATS its last nine and 4-0 ATS its last four as a ‘dog

· Oklahoma is 1-6 ATS its last seven games

· Wichita State is on a 4-0 ATS run

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