Valparaiso vs. Illinois Pick
After cutting ties with their coach, can No. 2 Illinois bounce back and handle No. 7 Valparaiso when the two meet up at 7:15PM ET in the NIT Tournament?
According to oddsmakers at BetDSI, Illinois is the favorite in this game, as the Illini are getting odds of -9 points against Valpo. The over/under total is listed at 140 points. These two met back in 2013 with Illinois getting a 64-52 win at home. These two meet tonight from State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois.
After going 18-14 this season and finishing ninth in the Big Ten, Illinois elected to part ways with coach John Groce, who was 95-75 in five season at Illinois. The Illini were 13-16-1 against the spread this season, including a 7-7-1 mark ATS at home. Illinois averaged 70.5 points per game on offense while allowing 70. At home, the offensive number boosted up to 74.8 points per contest. Malcolm Hill is leading the team with 16.8 points per game while Maverick Morgan has added 10.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest.
Valpo went 24-8 in this season. The Crusaders were also 7-5 in true road games while putting up a 15-14 record against the spread. Valpo averaged 74.8 points per game on offense while allowing 68.3 on defense. Away from home, the Crusaders are allowing 72.7 points per game. Alec Peters was leading the team with 23 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, but a foot injury has sidelined him for the season. Shane Hammink is now the team leader with 15.5 points per contest.
If it wasn’t for the injury to Peters, I would like Valpo in this game straight up. The Crusaders are a tough team, but losing Peters is losing a lot. Valpo hasn’t been the same team since. Illinois isn’t playing well either, but the Illini have won and covered in their last two at home. The team should be motivated to play well after Groce was let go. It can be a fresh start for the team.
NIT TOURNAMENT PREDICTION: ILLINOIS -9