College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Illinois vs. Cincinnati: Betting Guide to Hall of Fame Classic Game
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kofi Cockburn
- Kofi Cockburn and Illinois takes on Cincinnati at the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City.
- The Bearcats are undefeated but their best win has come against Georgia.
- D.J. James breaks down the matchup and offers up his best bet.
Illinois vs. Cincinnati Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The Illinois Fighting Illini take on the Cincinnati Bearcats in their first game since a shocking upset loss in the final seconds to Marquette. Cincy is 4-0 on this young season but has yet to have a true test.
This matchup will come in the first round of the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City. Kansas State will play Arkansas and the winners of the two matchups will meet Tuesday night.
Head coach Brad Underwood should have the Illini players poised for a bounce-back position.
Illinois is a top-10 basketball team. The loss to Marquette was an anomaly, but some very glaring issues came to the surface that Underwood should iron out as the season elapses.
First, Andre Curbelo needs to be more disciplined. He is perhaps always the most athletic player on the court and he can do everything with flash.
Marquette exploited his most pronounced flaw, though. He tends to get a bit reckless with the ball and forces up shots. Curbelo went 4-of-18 from the field and turned the ball over seven times vs. the Golden Eagles, which is the worst fans will see from him all season.
If he avoids trying to do everything himself, Curbelo is a facilitator who can be a double-double machine.
This leads me to the next point. With Kofi Cockburn back on the court — following a three-game suspension — Curbelo will have his target and will automatically revert back to his true form. Do not be shocked if Curbelo racks up the assists in this one and only shoots when necessary.
Cockburn is a seven-foot, 285-pound menace in the paint. Last season, he averaged 17.7 points per game and 9.5 assists per game. Those numbers will be even more impressive now that he is the main source of Illini offense with Ayo Dosunmu in the NBA.
Cincy plays a rotation of three guys in the post: Ody Oguama, Abdul Ado and Viktor Lakhin. None of those three are going to be able to contain Cockburn. He should be ready to go and have a fire lit out of the gates.
The Illini have a fantastic defense. They rank first in defensive efficiency (per KenPom), led by guard Trent Frazier. They were ranked seventh last season, as well.
Outside of losing Dosunmu, this team has added depth. Da’Monte Williams, like Frazier, came back for his extra senior season. Coleman Hawkins had a tough go of it with Marquette, but getting plenty of early minutes likely helps the young player out upon Cockburn’s return.
Based on how Cincy’s power comes through its guards, Illinois will be able to shut the Bearcats down at every corner. The Illini have an antidote for Cincinnati’s scoring opportunities.
Cincinnati is a mid-tier AAC team. The Bearcats distribute their points well, but this roster has yet to have much time to gel.
They have only turned the ball over 13.3% of the time, but this was an issue for the Cincinnati offense (David DeJulius and Jeremiah Davenport included) last season. With pressure from the Illini guards, they could turn to their old ways.
Next, Cincinnati only nabs 31.4% of its offensive rebounds. These numbers will likely plummet with Cockburn and Hawkins in the paint. In addition, Frazier, Williams and the like will be able to box out the Cincinnati guards, who produce much of the team’s rebounding results.
If Illinois is pulling down the boards early, the Bearcats could be in for a long night.
Lastly, the Bearcats are only shooting 32.2% from behind the arc this season. This was against teams with a KenPom ranking all below 166 — so the lesser half of the NCAA.
Illinois is going to force Cincy to make its jump shots. The ball is not going to enter the key much, as Cincy does not have a match for Cockburn. That means the Bearcats have to sink their jumpers, which they haven’t shown any capability of doing, even against lesser competition.
It is hard to see where Cincinnati manufactures points in this matchup.
Illinois vs. Cincinnati Betting Pick
With the return of a potential Wooden Award winner, the Illini will be an overwhelming matchup for the Bearcats. Cockburn is a crucial piece to the middle of this Illinois team and the center of its offense. The Bearcats have no match for him.
Curbelo will look sharper with an offensive outlet in Cockburn and the rest of the team should settle down from trying to play hero ball against Marquette.
Look for Illinois to cruise to victory. Take the Illini -10.5 and play to -12.5.