Marquette vs Illinois Odds, Pick for Tuesday
Pictured: Kam Jones. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Marquette vs Illinois Odds, Pick
The final (for now?) edition of the Gavitt Games tipped off on Monday and one of the headliner matchups of the Big East vs. Big Ten showdown pits Marquette against Illinois.
Both teams are off to 2-0 starts, but haven't shined relative to expectations, as the Illini are 0-2 against the spread and Marquette is 1-1 with a narrow cover.
That being the case, let's look at the Marquette vs. Illinois odds and make a pick.
After years of being known for having defensive-minded teams, Shaka Smart struck gold offensively last year. Marquette’s offense routinely incinerated its competition and torching UConn for 1.19 points per possession in the Big East Tournament semifinals stands out as an incredible highlight.
With only Olivier-Maxence Prosper gone from that team, the offense has continued humming. All-American point guard Tyler Kolek leads the way with his tough-as-nails attitude and sublime court vision. His lineup bookend, center Oso Ighodaro, is also immensely skilled, and they form arguably the best PG-C passing duo in the country.
They also have plenty of weapons around them. Kam Jones is deadly from anywhere on the court, and David Joplin is a budding scoring force as he steps into Prosper’s starting role.
However, that high-octane attack could sputter a bit if Kolek is out or limited. He rolled an ankle against Rider on Friday and didn't return to the game. His prognosis for Tuesday night is iffy, so keep an eye out for an update on his status.
Marquette’s defense is the other question mark. The Golden Eagles lack interior bulk, which creates issues on the glass and their best defenders are rarely on the court at the same time.
The most notable observation when watching this year’s version of Illinois is its markedly improved cohesion. The Illini have adept passers up and down the lineup. Starting big man Coleman Hawkins leads the team in assists through two games, and five different players have at least three assists thus far.
That’s a revelation compared to last year, when Illinois had frequent “my turn, your turn” tugs-of-war on offense.
This group also sports immense lineup versatility. Hawkins can play inside or out, and coach Brad Underwood can go big by pairing Hawkins with brawler Dain Dainja. The Illini also have seven rotation players standing 6-foot-6 or taller, including the entire starting lineup.
That defensive switchability will be valuable against Marquette’s potent offense.
I’d be remiss to not mention Terrence Shannon Jr., a scoring dynamo who can erupt at any moment. A 6-foot-6, 225-pound skilled wing, Shannon could be a matchup issue for Marquette.
Marquette vs. Illinois
Betting Pick & Prediction
Both coaches are willing to get out and run, and both teams have a multitude of offensive weapons. Illinois is coming off a slog against Oakland, but facing an opponent that's willing to meet it in a transition battle could lead to a slingshot effect.
Two years ago, the Marquette vs. Illinois matchup featured 77 possessions. If this one gets near that number, the over will be in great shape.
Additionally, Marquette’s deft ball movement can unlock Illinois’ switching and take advantage of any communication issues still lingering as Underwood tries to incorporate his new pieces. On the other end, Shannon should be a mismatch and the Illini wings can crush the offensive glass.
This game looks to be an up-tempo, efficient clash, which sets up well for the over. Kolek's potential absence is my main concern, and I'd advise lowering your bet size until his status is solidified. If he's unable to play, this will only be a half-unit wager for me.
Pick: Over 147 (Play to 151 | Keep Eye on Kolek's Status)
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