Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

Thursday's Tip Sheet

Illinois at Ohio State (-8 ½, 142 ½) – 7:00 PM EST – ESPN2

Both these Big 10 squads sit in the middle of the conference standings, but each team has stepped up of late. Illinois (9-15 SU, 10-14 ATS) is coming off three consecutive home wins over Nebraska, Michigan State, and Rutgers to move to 5-8 inside the league. After shocking Michigan State as 10 ½-point underdogs last Tuesday, the Illini held off Rutgers in overtime, 99-94 on Saturday to win three straight games for the first time this season.

Ohio State (16-7 SU, 10-13 ATS) started Big 10 play with a pair of December victories, but when the calendar flipped to 2019, the Buckeyes dropped five straight conference affairs. The Buckeyes have rebounded with wins in four of their last five contests, including a 55-52 triumph at Indiana as 2 ½-point underdogs this past Sunday. Although the Buckeyes have pulled to 6-6 in the league, OSU’s last four wins have come against teams that own conference records of 4-9 or worse.

Illinois is barely above the likes of Indiana, Nebraska, Rutgers, and Penn State, as the Fighting Illini is seeking its first true road win of the season. The Illini has lost 11 of 12 games away from Champagne, while capturing only one away Big 10 victory since the start of last season, which came at Rutgers in last year’s season finale.

Ohio State took care of Illinois in the first meeting to tip off Big 10 play in December, 77-67 as five-point road favorites. The game took place at the United Center in Chicago as the Buckeyes erased a four-point halftime deficit and outscored the Illini, 43-29 in the second half. Illinois was held to 33% shooting from the floor, while each team knocked down 23 free throws. Ohio State has captured eight of the past nine meetings since 2013, but Illinois has covered in its last two trips to Columbus.

Houston (-8, 140) at UConn – 7:00 PM EST – ESPN

Only one team has tripped up Houston (23-1 SU, 16-7-1 ATS) this season as the Cougars seek their ninth win in a row on Thursday. Since losing at Temple on January 9, Houston has won and covered in each of its past four AAC road contests, including a nine-point triumph at UCF last Thursday. The most recent victory for Kelvin Sampson’s team came in Sunday’s AAC showdown with Cincinnati as the Cougars held off the Bearcats, 65-58 to cash as 4 ½-point favorites and move to 10-1 in the league.

Houston heads to UConn (13-11 SU, 14-10 ATS) as the Huskies have won only one game away from Storrs, but they are 12-2 at home. UConn is riding a four-game home winning streak since losing the AAC opener to UCF, but the Huskies are coming off a pair of road defeats at Temple and Memphis. The Huskies pulled out a narrow cover as 7 ½-point underdogs in a 78-71 setback at Memphis last Sunday, while improving to 5-1 ATS in the past six games.

The Cougars have cashed in six of seven road contests, while covering in five of the past seven opportunities as a favorite of five points or more. Houston won the lone matchup between these two teams last season, 81-71 in Texas, but the Huskies picked up the cover as 14 ½-point underdogs. The Cougars are making their first trip to Storrs since December 2016 when they dominated the Huskies, 62-48 as 3 ½-point favorites.

Arizona at Utah (-4 ½, 145 ½) – 9:00 PM EST

It’s turning into a free-fall of epic proportions in Tucson as Arizona (14-10 SU, 10-13-1 ATS) has gone from 5-1 in Pac-12 play to 5-6 in a two-week span. The Wildcats have dropped five consecutive games, including three losses by double-digits in this stretch. Arizona hung with conference leader Washington last Thursday before losing by seven, but the Wildcats were blitzed early by Washington State in a 69-55 defeat last Saturday as 11 ½-point favorites.

The Wildcats travel north to Utah to face the Utes (13-10 SU, 11-12 ATS), who have overcome a 1-2 Pac-12 start to own a 7-4 conference mark. Utah has won five of six games away from Salt Lake City with the only road setback coming at Arizona in overtime, 84-81 on January 5. The Utes grabbed the cover as eight-point underdogs and shot 56% from the field, led by Sedrick Barefield’s 26 points. However, Utah has lost nine of the past 10 matchups with Arizona, with the only victory in this span coming at Huntsman Center in February 2016 as 3 ½-point favorites, 70-64.

Utah swept the Los Angeles schools last weekend, capped off by an incredible comeback win at UCLA last Saturday. The Utes climbed out of a 22-point hole as Parker Van Dyke drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to stun the reeling Bruins, 93-92, while cashing as five-point underdogs. However, Utah has struggled at home of late by losing its last two to Oregon and Oregon State. Since hitting the UNDER against Washington in its conference home opener, the Utes have finished OVER the total in four straight games at Huntsman Center.

Colonial Clippings

Two of the top three teams in the CAA do battle on Thursday as Hofstra (21-4 SU, 18-6 ATS) visits College of Charleston (20-6 SU, 10-14-1 ATS). The Pride sit atop the league at 11-1, while the Cougars are in third place at 9-4. Hofstra bounced back from a 14-point loss at Northeastern to win the last two games at home against William & Mary and Elon. Charleston is riding a six-game winning streak, which includes four consecutive victories at home. The last loss suffered by the Cougars came to the Pride on January 19 as Hofstra grabbed an 86-72 triumph as five-point home favorites.

Northeastern is wedged in between Hofstra and Charleston towards the top of the CAA standings at 9-3. The Huskies (15-9 SU, 12-10-2 ATS) are fresh off their fourth straight win after outlasting Elon in overtime, 72-60 on Saturday. In spite of the 12-point win, Northeastern failed to cash as hefty 16 ½-point favorites for only their second non-cover in the last 10 games. The Huskies visit UNC-Wilmington as the Seahawks (8-18 SU, 10-13-2 ATS) have lost five straight to slip to 4-9 in the CAA. Northeastern cruised past UNCW as 12-point home favorites, 88-71 on January 19 to pick up its fourth consecutive win over the Seahawks since the start of last season.

Delaware and Towson each seek consistency as the two squads meet in Baltimore. The Blue Hens (15-11 SU, 11-11-2 ATS) snapped a three-game skid in a 70-66 home win over UNC-Wilmington last Saturday, but Delaware pushed as a four-point favorite to fall to 0-5-1 ATS the last six contests. The Tigers (9-16 SU, 10-14 ATS) have heated up from an ATS perspective by cashing in five of the past six games, while going 4-2 SU. Most of this damage has been in the underdog role, as Towson will be listed as a CAA favorite for only the third time. Towson squeezed past Delaware as 5 ½-point road underdogs, 64-63 in mid-January to improve to 7-0 in the last seven meetings.

Four teams finished tied for the bottom spot of the CAA last season, including Drexel and James Madison. The Dragons (12-14 SU, 16-9 ATS) won only six conference games in 2018, but Drexel has been the most improved team in the Colonial by beginning 6-7 after an 0-2 start. Drexel grabbed its seventh consecutive cover in a two-point home defeat to Charleston last Saturday, while owning a 5-2 ATS mark in CAA road contests. Drexel heads to James Madison as the Dukes (10-15 SU, 7-16 ATS) have put together a 1-6 SU/ATS mark the last seven games overall. The Dragons got past the Dukes in their first matchup in Philadelphia, 73-68 as 3 ½-point favorites last month as these teams have met seven times since the start of the 2016-17 season.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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