College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Notre Dame vs. Illinois: Back the Illini Despite Injury Issues?
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- Illinois faces off against Notre Dame in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
- The Illini are missing three key pieces due to injury, but still have Kofi Cockburn in the lineup.
- D.J. James breaks down the matchup and offers up his best bet.
Notre Dame vs. Illinois Odds
|Notre Dame Odds|
-120o / +100u
-120o / +100u
The Illinois Fighting Illini had a shocking close call in their last game at home against UT Rio Grande Valley. The end result does not reflect how close the game was, as the llini had to go on a run down the stretch to protect their home-court advantage.
Illinois will face Notre Dame in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge with Trent Frazier (leg), Andre Curbelo (neck/concussion) and Jacob Grandison (illness) all being questionable.
Grandison can likely return if he recovers quickly, but Curbelo only registered three minutes in the second half of their contest with Kansas State. Frazier had to be helped off the floor after rolling an ankle. The timetable remains uncertain for all three, so Illinois is greatly stretched at the point guard position.
As for the Fighting Irish, they have struggled similarly to the Illini in games against Power-6 competition (i.e. Texas A&M and Saint Mary’s). These are not necessarily bad losses, but they have yet to display their true abilities vs. strong teams.
However, with questionable injuries for the Illinois guards, Notre Dame has a chance to keep this game close. Still, the Irish have not impressed yet and Illinois has a tough defense that can keep its opponent in check all game.
Notre Dame has a rotation of seven players it runs out in each game, most of which are upperclassmen. Otherwise, head coach Mike Brey does not carry a very deep bench.
Notre Dame has a top-20 offensive efficiency, mainly thanks to its guards. Paul Atkinson Jr. and Nate Laszewski manage the post, but if either of these players are in foul trouble, the Irish must run their offense through their backcourt.
Notre Dame’s Effective Field Goal Percentage is only 47.2%, which is attributable to its lack of production from behind the arc. The Irish are only shooting 28.4% from downtown, even if they have a 3-point attempt percentage of 47%.
They will need Dane Goodwin and Blake Wesley to hit their 3s in order to keep this tight.
Unfortunately, the Irish are not very good at turning other teams over. Illinois has been sloppy through its first stretch of the season. Depending on which of its guards are available, this would be something for the Irish to exploit.
Illinois is a fantastic rebounding team. Having Kofi Cockburn, a Wooden Award contender, in the paint helps.
The Illini rank fifth in offensive rebounding percentage in all of college basketball. This should provide a clear advantage, if Notre Dame has issues keeping its only two posts out of foul trouble.
Notre Dame’s poor defense could help Illinois limit one of its biggest issues: turnovers.
Notre Dame is also horrible at defending the 3-pointer. Illinois shot 46.2% in its last contest and Alfonso Plummer has filled the shoes of Frazier by sinking 13-of-20 3s in his last two games. With a lack of depth on the perimeter, he is poised to do some damage in this game.
Even with Curbelo and Frazier possibly out, Da’Monte Williams has stepped up — alongside Plummer — as of late.
Sure, the Illini’s defense had its own concerns against UTRGV, but the Illini cannot be worse from the backcourt than their early-season contests. Hopefully, for their sake, at least one of the three questionable players can return for this game.
Notre Dame vs. Illinois Betting Pick
Illinois seems like a solid team to fade, but Notre Dame has not really accomplished much in the early going, either.
Illinois will take advantage of Notre Dame’s defensive holes behind the arc and it has shown it can limit its turnovers, at least in its last game. If Cockburn sees some easy passageways in the paint, the Illini could have a massive edge.
Take Illinois at -6.5 and play it to -7. This will be close, but Illinois has the guys to cover the spread.