Central Florida vs. Illinois Pick
Which team will punch their ticket to New York when No. 2 Illinois meets No. 4 Central Florida in the NIT Tournament quarterfinals at 7PM ET?
According to oddsmakers at BetDSI, Central Florida is favored at home, as the Knights are getting odds of -3.5 points against Illinois. The over/under total for the game is listed at 130.5 points. This game will actually be played from CFE Arena in Orlando, Florida despite the Knights being the higher seed.
Illinois has looked really good in this tournament, beating Valpo 82-57 and Boise State 71-56. The Illini are now 20-14 on the season while going 15-16-1 against the spread. The Illini average 70.8 points per game on offense while allowing 69.2 on defense. Malcolm Hill is leading the team with 16.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while Maverick Morgan is adding 10.1 points per contest.
UCF is coming off a 63-62 win at Illinois State. The Golden Knights also beat Colorado in this tournament to get to 23-11 on the season. They are 16-13 against the spread this season while averaging 67.4 points per game on offense and allowing just 61.1 per game on defense. At home UCF has allowed just 57.5 points per game. B.J. Taylor is averaging 17.7 points per game to lead the team while Tacko Fall is adding 11 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
I have been wrong on Illinois. The Illini are playing extremely well right now. I am concerned about them going on the road, but I think their lineup is good enough to compete with the Knights’ defense. UCF has been grinding out victories for the most part this season, so I look for this game to be close. Illinois is playing at a level that should allow it to win, or at least cover.
NIT TOURNAMENT PREDICTION: ILLINOIS +3.5