Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Villanova Wildcats - 12/9/14 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Villanova Wildcats (8-0) at Illinois Fighting Illini (7-1)
College Basketball: Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 7:00 pm (Madison Square Garden)
The Line: Illinois Fighting Illini +3 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds
The Illinois Fighting Illini and Villanova Wildcats will square off at Madison Square Garden to kick off the Jimmy V Classic this Tuesday Night.
The 24th ranked Illinois Fighting Illini (6-1) lost their first game of the season early last week, a 70-61 defeat at the hands of the 15th ranked Miami Hurricanes, however, bounced back nicely with a 70-55 win against the American Eagles this past Saturday. The Illini shot an impressive 90.5% (19-21) from the free-throw line and out-rebounded the Eagles by a 29-18 margin. Leading the way for Illinois was Malcom Hall who had 13 points (6-10 FG) and 3 rebounds. The Fighting Illini are led by Rayvonte Rice (17.4 ppg, 53.0% FG%, 7.3 RPG, 2.1 SPG) and Malcom Hall (13.9 PPG, 55.9% FG%, 5.9 rpg). Illinois has done a nice job protecting the ball as they are only committing an average of 9.3 turnovers per game which ranks 3rd in the country. Offensively Illinois is averaging 83.9 ppg (ranked 14th) on 46.1% shooting (ranked 90th). The Fighting Illini do a great job of capitalizing at the free throw line as they currently are shooting 77.5% as a team which ranks 4th in the country. Defensively, the Fighting Illini are holding opponents to 62.8 ppg (ranked 118th) on 37.8% shooting (ranked 44th).
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The 7th ranked Villanova Wildcats (8-0) remained perfect on the season as they cruised to an easy 74-46 victory over the Saint Joseph’s Hawks this past Saturday. Jay Wright’s squad put up one of their best defensive performances of the season holding the Hawks to just 30.5% (18-59) shooting while forcing St. Joseph’s to commit 21 turnovers. Leading the way for Villanova was Darrun Hilliard II who had a nice overall game which included scoring 11 points, grabbing 4 rebounds, and dishing out 4 assists. Villanova might be lacking a true scorer/go-to guy however, this is one of the deepest teams in the country who can beat you in a variety of ways. Villanova are led by Dylan Ennis (12.3 PPG, 46.2 3P%, 4.4 reb), Darrun Hilliard II (10.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.4 apg), Daniel Ochefu (9.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg), and JayVaughn Pinkston (8.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg). Defensively, the Wildcats are holding opponents to just 55.8 ppg (ranked 19th) and are one of the best in defending the three as they are holding opponents to just 26.3% shooting from beyond the arc.
The Fighting Illini are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a S.U. win and 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games overall. The Wildcats are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 vs. the Big Ten and 20-6-1 ATS in their last 27 non-conference games.
Illinois have put up some great offensive numbers on the season, however, I think these numbers are a bit misleading due to the level of some of their competition early in the season. The Fighting Illini did struggle on offensive in their recent matchups against Baylor and Miami and I think that Villanova will not make it easy on Rayvonte Rice and Malcom Hall. Villanova seems to be firing on all cylinders at the moment and I think they’ll put on an impressive show to kick off the Jimmy V Classic. I’m going to take the Villanova Wildcats to cover the small spread.