College Basketball Odds, Expert Picks & Predictions for Illinois vs. Virginia (Sunday, November 20)
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: Coleman Hawkins (Illinois)
- Illinois and Virginia meet in the Continental Tire Main Event final from Las Vegas on Sunday.
- The Illini upset UCLA on Friday while the Cavs took down Baylor.
- Doug Ziefel breaks down the matchup and explains why he's backing the Illini.
Illinois vs. Virginia Odds
-105o / -115u
-105o / -115u
The Continental Tire Main Event championship is not the matchup that many expected, as the two teams upset the higher seeds on Friday night.
However, it’s hard to call any performance an upset in a tournament filled with titans.
The No. 16-ranked Virginia Cavaliers shot the lights out against a stout Baylor team. It was a very impressive performance on both ends, as their sharp shooting and suffocating defense led to a run that the Bears couldn’t claw back from.
As for the Fighting Illini, they did just what their nickname portrays against the UCLA Bruins. They battled back from a nine-point halftime deficit, as they outscored the Bruins by 18 in the second half.
But much like their counterparts in this matchup, they did so with excellent defense and dynamite perimeter shooting.
These two teams are eerily similar, and they should combine for a barnburner. However, there’s only one winning side, so let’s dive in to see how to play this marquee matchup.
While Illinois’ victory over UCLA was undoubtedly a team effort, there was one man who shined bright.
Terrence Shannon Jr. was out of this world from behind the arc. The Texas Tech transfer made 8-of-9 attempts from long range and showed just how great he can be now that he’s fully healthy.
However, we may see a very similar style of attack from the Fighting Illini in this matchup. Virginia is an excellent defensive team, but it has been punished from downtown — the Cavs are currently 310th in 3-point percentage allowed.
While I expect that percentage to come down as they adjust for this matchup, they can’t over-extend to the 3-point line against Illinois.
Why? Well, the Fighting Illini have a significant size advantage on the inside. Coleman Hawkins and Dain Dainja could be essential factors in the pick-and-roll game if the Cavaliers fight to go over the top of screens.
That size advantage is also going to create second chances, as Illinois will be able to grab plenty of offensive rebounds.
But pedigree aside, the Fighting Illini will be a very tough matchup for Virginia.
We discussed how Shannon put together a lights-out shooting performance for the Fighting Illini.
Well, the Cavaliers may have a man of their own that can answer him.
Armaan Franklin has gotten off to a scorching hot start to the season, and his 26 points against Baylor was his best effort thus far.
The Cavaliers have a new look to them offensively, as they’re able to stretch the floor. If their 9-of-14 shooting performance last night isn’t enough, Virginia is now second in the country in 3-point shooting percentage.
However, Illinois is not a team that will allow Franklin and the Cavaliers to get many open looks. The Fighting Illini are currently 94th in 3-point percentage allowed, and 3s have made up just 26% of the points they’ve surrendered to this point in the season.
That’s not the only area where the Illini will have an answer for Virginia, though. Their size advantage will be even more of a factor on the defensive end, as they can contain Jayden Gardner.
It may take another herculean shooting performance for the Cavaliers to hang around.
Illinois vs. Virginia Betting Pick
At the time of writing, there is currently no line posted, but the best source we have is KenPom. He has the Cavaliers as four-point favorites in this matchup. If we get Illinois as more than a three-point underdog, that would be a tremendous value.
The Fighting Illini have the edge on both ends of the court, as they have more ways to score and can contain the Cavaliers from behind the arc.
We should see some sizable shooting regression from Virginia.
I’ll be willing to back Illinois at -1 or better. However, if we do get the Illini as underdogs, the moneyline is also a viable option.
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