Eastern Illinois vs Illinois Odds & Picks: How to Bet In-State Opener

Eastern Illinois vs Illinois Odds & Picks: How to Bet In-State Opener article feature image

Photo by David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Brad Underwood.

Eastern Illinois vs. Illinois Odds

Monday, Nov. 7
9 p.m. ET
Eastern Illinois Odds
-110o / -110u
Illinois Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The Illinois Fighting Illini have overcome some crucial losses in personnel to put together yet another contender for the Big Ten crown.

Head coach Brad Underwood lost Wooden Award contender Kofi Cockburn, Trent Frazier and Alfonso Plummer, just to name a few. He replaced them through a top-10 freshman recruiting class and via the transfer portal, as a good coach will do.

The Illini take on the Eastern Illinois Panthers at home in the opener of both teams’ 2022-2023 campaigns.

Eastern Illinois (5-26) finished 357th in KenPom’s rankings last season and was last in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Panthers come into this season ranked 354th — which is not much better — so expect another cellar-dweller season for Marty Simmons and Co.

That said, the Illini will have an almost entirely new starting lineup, and with significant roster turnover, there are usually a few bumps in the road until consistency stabilizes.

Even still, this Illinois team will distribute the ball and have multiple scoring options, in contrast to past teams with Ayo Dosunmu and Cockburn.

There is too much athleticism and versatility on this roster to not at least hold the Panthers to very few points.

In addition, since Illinois will take a little time getting used to each other, it will have some kinks to work out on the offensive end.

Eastern Illinois Panthers

The Panthers do not have a strong team on either side of the court. They are one of the worst college basketball teams for a reason.

Either way, they will have their collective hands full on Monday night.

Yaakema Rose Jr. is a nice addition from Division II, as he averaged 13.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Dan Luers and Paul Bizimana are the two best scorers returning from last season. Rodolfo Rufino Bolis is another option down low who can snag the boards, as well as former Illini Jermaine Hamlin.

This team does focus on slowing the pace. Last season, Simmons led this team to go 21-8 to unders. The Panthers rank 305th in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom, so this is the main strategy.

This is why their defense ranked above 300th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, as well.

With Bizimana and Rufino Bolis in the paint, they will at least have options to limit Coleman Hawkins and Matthew Mayer.

This team only averaged 56.3 points per game in the OVC last year, and it lost three of its top-five scorers. It will be hard to keep up with the versatility and depth of the Illinois lineup.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois will definitely alter its scheme with no go-to big man this season. Hawkins is more of the agile defender and offensive piece, while Cockburn played more like a college version of Shaq.

The Illini will return RJ Melendez, who projects to be drafted to the NBA after the season. His pure explosiveness is enough to watch, based on how he handled Houston on a fastbreak in the Round of 32 last year.

Yes, he was awarded a controversial technical, but being 6-foot-7 and running like that deserves some attention.

The Illini added Mayer and Dain Dainja from Baylor and Terrence Shannon Jr. from Texas Tech. Mayer and Shannon were highly-sought after, and Dainja will prove to be a nice backup in the frontcourt for Underwood.

In addition, they have four four-star recruits in Skyy Clark, Ty Rodgers, Jayden Epps and Sencire Harris to add to this team’s depth.

Luke Goode will be out after needing surgery on his foot, so this hurts the Illini on defense and on the perimeter, especially with the lack continuity on this roster.

Rodgers and Harris will be strong on the defensive end, and Clark likely starts at point guard with Epps backing up the guard position.

Eastern Illinois vs. Illinois Betting Pick

Underwood has noted this is his best roster at Illinois, so it will be interesting to see a new, more nimble approach. The Illini will overwhelm the Panthers on both sides of the ball, but given the pace of the Panthers, a few lumps in a new offense could indicate a poor shooting first half.

The Illini could easily cover this line and likely will hold Eastern Illinois’ offense to less than 55 points. The Illini just might not score 80. Take the under in this game at 135.

Pick: Under 135 (-110) | Play to 133.5 (-110)

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