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Illinois Wolfpack Youth Basketball

College basketball is now in the heart of conference action and the next two months will determine which teams go dancing in March. It is a large card in college basketball on Wednesday night, including three nationally televised games.

N.C. State makes the short road trip to face in-state rival Duke, while a pair of Big Ten battles take place between Northwestern/Michigan and Wisconsin/Ohio State. Below is a look at all three national TV matchups.

N.C. STATE at DUKE (-11, 144) (ESPN)

N.C. State will provide another tough challenge for the #1 ranked and undefeated Duke Blue Devils (16-0 SU). The Wolfpack are 14-2 SU this season with their only two losses coming at Iowa and at North Carolina. The Wolfpack have a strong defense which allows just 38 percent from the field (versus opponents that average 44 percent overall) and overall the Wolfpack is permitting just 61 points per game (versus opponents that average 71 ppg).

Duke is a long-term 63-47 ATS as a double-digit home favorite under head coach Mike Krzyzewski and beat Maryland last Wednesday 76-52 as a 13-point favorite. It appears the oddsmakers are finally making the proper adjustments as Duke’s most recent game on Saturday landed exactly on the closing number as the Blue Devils won 87-77 at Clemson as a 10-point favorite.

Duke has gone 3-1 SU/ATS in their past four meetings versus N.C. State; however Duke only won once in those four games by more than twelve points.


Michigan is coming off a hard fought 79-74 loss at Illinois last Saturday. Michigan outshot the Illini 46-42 percent overall and covered as a 10 ˝-point road underdog. The Wolverines now return home they stand 8-1 SU this season, but just 2-4 ATS.

Michigan defeated Northwestern at home, 71-61, last year as an 8 ˝ point favorite, but the Wolverines lost the other two meetings away from home, dropping a 69-53 decision at Northwestern and then losing 58-56 in the Big Ten tournament.

Northwestern qualifies as a double-digit defensive dog tonight as the Wildcats are allowing just 57 points per game and 39 percent shooting overall. Also, winning underdogs (+10 or more) off back-to-back SU losses are a solid 60-34 ATS the past few seasons.

WISCONSIN at OHIO STATE (-4 ˝, 139 ˝) (espn2)

The Big-10 Conference remains the most competitive and talented in the nation this season as Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State and Michigan are all postseason contenders.

Wisconsin lost four starters from last year’s Elite Eight squad, but they are still off to an impressive 14-2 SU start. The Badgers do have a tendency to play better at home and stand a perfect 10-0 SU in Madison, but just 4-2 SU away, including 1-2 SU in true road games. Wisconsin lost earlier this season at Wake Forest and Pittsburgh, before earning their first true road victory at Minnesota last week.

My overall power ratings favor Ohio State by just 3 ˝ points tonight and Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan is a solid 81-57 ATS in all games as coach of the Badgers. However, his teams are just 13-23 ATS on the road after a double-digit SU win and Wisconsin has allowed 46 percent shooting away from home this season.

Ohio State is coming off their first home loss this year as the Buckeyes lost 62-59 as a 4 ˝-point favorite versus Michigan State on Sunday. Ohio State struggled on offense and shot a season-low 33 percent overall. It was only the second time all season that the Buckeyes shot below 46 percent. Ohio State still stands 9-1 SU at home and has won by an average margin of +17 points per game and outshot their visiting opponents 50-43 percent from the floor.

These teams met three times last season and Wisconsin was a 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS, with their only pointspread loss coming by a single point. In fact, Wisconsin has dominated this head-to-head series the past two seasons, going 5-0 SU (4-1 ATS).

Steve Merril is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at