With the second day of the NCAA Tournament, many are expecting a big upset in this game. Don’t get too far ahead of yourselves, though, because the Illinois Fighting Illini have something to prove against the Chattanooga Mocs. The Illini and the Mocs will tip it off on Friday at 6:50 p.m. (ET). Check out March Madness Odds, analysis, and a free prediction for Chattanooga Mocs versus Illinois Fighting Illini.
Men’s College Basketball March Madness Betting: #13 Chattanooga vs #4 Illinois Match Preview
Chattanooga versus Illinois Overview | March Madness First Round
Illinois is looking for redemption after last year, losing to Loyola-Chicago in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Illini were a #1 seed last season after winning the Big Ten Tournament. This year, they won the regular-season title and lost to Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament in the first round.
The Mocs come in as a #13 seed after winning the Southern Conference Tournament. Chattanooga knocked off Furman in the championship game on a buzzer-beater in overtime. The Mocs hold a record of 27-7 on the season.
Illinois Fighting Illini Notes
It has been a roller coaster of a season for Illinois. They have fought through injury, suspension, sickness, and a lot of other things we may not know about. Through it all, the Illini have persevered and won the Big Ten regular-season title. They barely got past Iowa to do it.
This matchup favors Illinois quite a bit. When looking at Chattanooga, they rank 272nd in two-point defense. That bodes well for Illinois and Kofi Cockburn. With that statistic alone, look for Cockburn to have a field day in the post.
On the season, Cockburn was named as a first-team All-American. He leads the Illini in points and rebounds per game. He averages 21.1 and 10.1, respectively.
Illinois also has one of the more experienced teams in the country, especially in their guards. With Trent Frazier, Alfonso Plummer, Jacob Grandison, and Da’Monte Williams, Illinois has a lot of options to use in that department. Plummer and Frazier have proven to be deadly three-point shooters.
Chattanooga Mocs Notes
Let’s cut to the chase and point out the fact that Chattanooga has not seen a team like Illinois all season long. Nothing against the Mocs, but how can you be expected to win this game with a not-so-great strength of schedule compared to their opponent? Now, it is March, and anything can happen, but the Mocs are fighting an uphill battle.
One thing is for certain; you cannot stop Kofi Cockburn, you can only slow him down. Chattanooga will have their hands full with Cockburn in the post. They will not only have to guard Cockburn well but guard the three-point line well in case he kicks it out from the post.
For the Mocs themselves, Malachi Smith has had a great season. Smith has averaged 20.1 points per game on the season, which leads Chattanooga. Silvio De Sousa will have to battle with Cockburn down low for the Mocs.
Illini vs Mocs Odds and Lines
- Spread: Illini -7.5
- Moneyline: Illini -330 / Mocs +2265
- Over/Under: 135.5
With the size of the Illini and Chattanooga struggling to defend the paint, this is a game that Illinois can take advantage of early. They can feed Cockburn and then allow him to kick to three if players collapse on him.