Fighting Illini to Tip Season with Cover vs. Evansville

Willie Bee

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 3:34 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018 3:34 PM UTC

Sophomore Trent Frazier leads Illinois as favorites on Thursday’s NCAA basketball odds card in a battle against Evansville from the Missouri Valley Conference.

Season Record: 1-0 (+1.00 units)

Evansville (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) at Illinois (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)Thursday, 8:00 p.m. ETFree Pick: Illinois ATSBest Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Thursday’s college hoops card doesn’t have any marquee matchups like Michigan State-Kansas gave us on Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean the contests we do have are meaningless, even when it’s between a couple of teams like Evansville and Illinois that are picked to finish near the bottom of their conference standings.

State Farm Center in Champaign is the site for the first hardwood matchup between the Purple Aces and Fighting Illini. How the sportsbooks will react to the matchup remains to be seen.

Can Underwood Satisfy Hungry Illini Fans In 2nd Season?

Walter McCarty has a tough couple of matchups to contend with as he begins his new job with the Aces traveling to take on Xavier two days from now following this stop in Champaign. The Evansville native inherits a team that ranked 335th a year ago averaging fewer than 64 PPG, and lost its leading scorer Ryan Taylor who scored about a third of those points and transferred to Northwestern for this season. One player McCarty was counting on to help ease that loss was Deandre Williams, but the 6-9 freshman out of Houston was declared ineligible by the NCAA.

Illini fans aren’t expecting Brad Underwood to take their team to the NCAA Tournament, but they do expect marked improvement from a team that went 4-14 in Big Ten action and covered the NCAA basketball odds just five times in its final 13 contests. Again, we’re not talking about any hopes for an invite to the Big Dance, especially with the huge roster turnover and young squad Illinois will field. Still, Underwood’s system has been successful at Stephen F. Austin and Oklahoma State, and there’s talent here that could be better than hoped for in his second season. Trent Frazier, Kipper Nichols and Aaron Jordan provide most of the returning experience, with freshmen Giorgi Bezhanishvili and Ayo Dosunmu expected to produce immediately. Juco transfer Andres Feliz gives Underwood and the Illini depth in the backcourt.

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The season begins on Thursday.

This should help tide you over 'til then.
⬇️⬇️⬇️https://t.co/JeTZPAt5Tj

— Illini Basketball (@IlliniMBB) November 6, 2018
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Evansville In Long Rut Against Power 5 Squads

The lack of any history between the schools adds to the mystery for what sort of lines we’ll see, though Evansville’s recent run against big-time programs could provide a little insight. The Purple Aces are winless in their 10 matchups against Power 5 schools, covering the spread just once with another contest never even making the board. You have to go back to December 2005 to find the last time Evansville beat a Power 5 team, the Aces holding on at home to beat a Purdue side that went 3-13 in Big Ten action that season.

Maybe we’ll get lucky with a softer line on the Illini, and I’m willing to take them up to -15 with my free college basketball pick.

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