NCAA Basketball Picks: Illinois vs. Miami

David Lawrence

Saturday, March 23, 2013 5:03 PM GMT

The Illinois Fighting Illini will have to play a lot better than they did on Friday in order to defeat the Miami Hurricanes this Sunday in the NCAA tournament's round of 32.


NCAAM Tournament Betting – Illinois vs. Miami Picks

Illinois can win because…

It can be very disruptive on defense. The Illini allowed only 16 first-half points to Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament a week ago in Chicago. This past Friday, in the round of 64 of the NCAA tournament, coach John Groce's team allowed just 21 points to Colorado in the first half. Then, after the Illini fell behind by a 44-39 margin with 9:30 left in regulation, they held the Buffaloes to just one made basket - two points overall - over the next nine minutes to score a 57-49 win. If you’re making your NCAA basketball picks, know that Illinois is a very capable defensive team. It has shown that it can lock down almost any opponent it faces.

The Illini also have the kind of scorer-shooter, Brandon Paul, who can not only take over a game, but who can do so by hitting un-guardable shots. Paul has a repertoire of fade away 17-footers and off-balance leaners that defenders simply can't do anything about. If he's hitting tough shots in this game, Miami will have to send double-teams in his direction. If Paul can pass out of the double-team to find an open man, Illinois could do a lot of damage to Miami's defense. If teammate D.J. Richardson, the other appreciably skilled scorer on this team, can do anything at all, Miami will be in for a 40-minute fight on the NCAA basketball odds

Miami can win because…

The Hurricanes have the balance and diversity on offense that can minimize the effectiveness of Illinois' defense. Shane Larkin is an elite breakdown point guard with a very respectable jump shot. He was not voted the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in 2013 - that honor went to Erick Green of Virginia Tech - but Larkin is continuing to show why he was worthy of the award. He has all the skills you want in a point guard - the handle, the quick first step, the ability to slash to the rim, and the jumper. He will be a load for Illinois on Sunday.

However, when Larkin isn't the featured part of Miami's attack, other guys readily and regularly step up. Durand Scott and Trey McKinney Jones are proven knockdown shooters, and Julian Gamble has been playing really well for the Hurricanes in recent weeks. Miami has three or four component parts who can all emerge on gameday, thereby making it hard for any opposing defense to focus on shutting down one player. The Hurricanes are also a team laden with upperclassmen; this is an experienced group with the talent level to match. It is not likely to get flustered or panicky against Illinois' defensive pressure.

[gameodds]14/225403/999996-43-19/us[/gameodds]

Outlook & Prediction:

This game could be close for 30 to 35 minutes but Miami knows what to do in difficult situations. Unless Illinois gets huge games from both Paul and Richardson, take the Hurricanes with your sports picks as they should be able to pull through in a close contest.

NCAAB Picks: Illinois +6.5 (Miami straight-up) at Bodog