No. 5 Illinois vs. No. 2 Baylor

No. 5 Illinois vs. No. 2 Baylor | 2020 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on December 2, 2020

No question the marquee matchup around college basketball on Wednesday is a potential Final Four matchup from Indianapolis – the host city of the 2021 Final Four – as No. 5 Illinois faces No. 2 Baylor. The Bears are short favorites on the NCAAB odds.

How to Bet Illinois vs. Baylor NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

  • When: Wednesday, 10 PM ET
  • Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
  • TV: ESPN
  • Stream: ESPN app
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAB Lines: Baylor -4 (total 142)

Series History

BU last faced Illinois in the 2014 Las Vegas Invitational championship game, a 62-54 Illini win. Prior to that, the teams met in Champaign in 1986 (92-68 Illini win) and in the 1987 Maui Invitational (73-50 Illini win).  Baylor is 4-0 against Brad Underwood-coached teams (he’s now at Illinois) – 2-0 vs. Oklahoma State, 2-0 vs. Stephen F. Austin.

Why Bet on Illinois? | 2020 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Illini (3-0) come off a 77-75 escape vs. Ohio last Friday – maybe Illinois was looking ahead to this one. There were 18 lead changes and 12 different ties. Ohio fouled Ayo Dosunmu with the Illini down by one with two seconds left on the clock, and Dosunmu converted both free throws to put the Illini ahead 76-75. Senior Trent Frazier then sealed the win by stealing the Ohio inbounds pass, and, after a foul, hitting the first free throw with :0.5 seconds left before missing the second intentionally to run out the clock.

Dosunmu (27 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds) had his third-straight 20-point performance for the first time in his career, and played solid defense to aid the Illini. Dosunmu tallied his 1,000th career point to become the 51st player in Illini history in the 1,000-career point club.  Dosunmu now ranks 49th in program history with 1,017 career points.

Da’Monte Williams set a career-high 10 rebounds and recorded his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Kofi Cockburn recorded his third straight double-double (13 points, 14 rebounds), his 15th in 34 career games at Illinois.

Freshman Adam Miller scored in double figures for the third-straight game, finishing with 11 points. He averaged 18 points in the opening week of his college career. Miller was named Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week on Monday. He shot 59.4% from the field (19-32), 47.1% (8-17) from 3-point range and 80% (8-10) from the foul line. Miller also set the Illini freshman-debut scoring record with 28 points vs. North Carolina A&T (Nov. 25), breaking the previous mark of 22 set by Brandon Paul (Nov. 13, 2009).

Illinois is one of just 11 schools – and one of only two Big Ten programs along with Iowa – to have two student-athletes on the preseason list for the Wooden Award, which has been awarded annually since 1976 to the nation’s most outstanding college basketball player. Those players are Dosunmu and sophomore center Kofi Cockburn.

Why Bet on Baylor? | 2020 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Bears (2-0) beat Washington 86-52 on Sunday. Baylor raced out to a 31-7 lead in the first 13 minutes and never looked back. After giving up 82 points and 52.5 percent shooting from the field in a season-opening win over Louisiana, Baylor’s lock-down man-to-man defense held the Huskies to 36.5 percent overall and 5-of-24 from outside the arc (20.8 percent).

Scoring 20 and 15 points, respectively, Jared Butler and MaCio Teague hit a combined six treys and helped the Bears shoot a sizzling 44.8 percent from 3-point range.

The Bears also dominated the boards, 50-19, and outscored the Huskies in the paint, 34-26. Sophomore Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 12 points and nine boards, while senior forward Mark Vital had eight points and matched Washington’s 11 players with his 15 rebounds. BU has led by at least 5 points in 32 consecutive games and built a double-digit lead in 26 of 32 games. Baylor is 53-5 when leading at halftime over the last 4 seasons since 2017-18 (21-2 last season).

Baylor returned four All-Big 12 players from a 2019-20 team which went 26-4 and spent five weeks ranked No. 1 nationally. The Bears finished last season ranked No. 4 in the coaches poll (No. 5 in AP).

2020 Big 12 Coach of the Year Scott Drew will coach his first game of the season Wednesday after missing two games due to COVID-19. Associate head coach Jerome Tang served as BU’s acting head coach. Baylor is on a school-record streak of 13 straight weeks top-5 ranked (previously 6 straight in 2017).

Baylor will be playing its 244th game as a ranked team under Drew – BU was ranked in 2 of 2197 games over the program’s 97 seasons prior to Drew. Since 2008-09, BU has been ranked in 241 of 423 games.

This is the 6th top-5 matchup in Baylor program history, the first in non-conference play or at a neutral site.

Game Trends

  • Fighting Illini are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 Wednesday games.
  • Fighting Illini are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win.
  • Fighting Illini are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 neutral site games.
  • Bears are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games.
  • Bears are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points.
  • Bears are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 games following a ATS win.

Expert Prediction

  • Baylor 79, Illinois 75

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