After a matchup of two recent national champions in the first semifinal at the Continental Tire Main Event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Illinois will meet UCLA in the second semi.
While Virginia vs Baylor is unlikely to be the most entertaining game we’ll ever see, the matchup between the Illini and the Bruins should be significantly easier on the eyes.
Both teams are 3-0 to start the new college basketball season, and both teams have high aspirations to make some noise in March.
But who gets the nod in my Illinois vs UCLA prediction? Keep reading to find out.
Illinois Fighting Illini vs. UCLA Bruins Matchup Information and Betting Odds
- Matchup: #19 Illinois Fighting Illini (3-0) vs UCLA Bruins (3-0)
- Venue & Location: T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas, Nevada)
- Date: Friday, November 18, 2022
- Game Time: 9:30 pm ET (6:30 pm local time)
- How to Watch Illinois vs UCLA: ESPNU
Illinois vs UCLA Odds
Game odds are via FanDuel as of Friday, November 18, 2022, at 6:50 pm ET. This article may also include odds from our other recommended sports betting sites.
- Illinois +3.5 (-110)
- UCLA -3.5 (-110)
- Over 145.5 (-110)
- Under 145.5 (-110)
- Illinois +138
- UCLA -166
Will Shannon Shine in Sin City?
Last season, Illinois shared the Big Ten regular season title with Wisconsin, but their regular season success didn’t translate into a deep March run, as they fell in the second round to Houston.
While the Illini had a dominant force in the middle in Kofi Cockburn, who averaged almost 21 PPG, consistent scoring from others was part of why they didn’t reach the second week of the Big Dance.
Cockburn departed to go pro, but Baylor transfer Dain Dainja (17.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.0 BPG) is doing a pretty good Cockburn impression so far.
More importantly, scoring from elsewhere might be less of an issue thanks to the addition of Texas Tech transfer and Chicago native Terrence Shannon Jr., who is averaging 22.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 3.7 APG through three games.
Last time out against Monmouth, Shannon went off for 30 points and added eight rebounds and four assists in the Illini’s 103-65 win.
Shannon started well last year at Texas Tech, averaging 16.8 PPG through his first five games, but he averaged only 8.9 PPG over his final 21 games. If he can stay healthy this season, he likely won’t have that drop-off, which would be big for Illinois’ aspirations to reach the second week of the tournament for the first time since reaching the title game in 2005.
I expect Shannon to play like he has a point to prove tonight in his first game against a big-time opponent with his new team.
Terrance Shannon Jr. Player Props vs UCLA
Odds are via FanDuel.
- Over 15.5 (-113)
- Under 15.5 (-113)
- Over 4.5 (-106)
- Under 4.5 (-112)
Illinois vs UCLA Prediction and Picks
Illinois vs UCLA Prediction: UCLA to win
Illinois vs UCLA Picks: Illinois/UCLA over (Best Value: over 144.5 @ -110 at FanDuel) & UCLA to cover in the 1st half (Best Value: -1.5 @ -110 at BetRivers & BetMGM)
While I do expect Shannon to have a big game, that expectation doesn’t sway me to back the Illini with my Illinois vs UCLA prediction and picks.
The Illini have certainly gotten off to a fantastic start this season, beating Eastern Illinois by 30 and both Kansas City and Monmouth by 38.
So have the Bruins, who throttled Sacramento State by 26, Long Beach State by 24, and Norfolk State by 30.
Those results are really neither here nor there, but I’ll be honest and say that at this point of the season, I’m riding with who I like better as a team, and I like the Bruins from top to bottom more than I like the Illini.
The post Illinois vs. UCLA Basketball Prediction & Picks: Will the Bruins top the Illini at T-Mobile Arena? appeared first on Betting News.