Illinois Fighting Illini (0-0) vs Eastern Illinois Panthers (0-0)
2023-11-06 20:00:00 EDT
The Line: Betting Odds: Illinois Fighting Illini -28 -- Over/Under: 141
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The Eastern Illinois Panthers and the Illinois Fighting Illini meet Monday in college basketball action from State Farm Center. Eastern Illinois posted a disappointing 9-22 overall record last year, landing in the basement of the Ohio Valley Conference standings. As for Illinois, they managed to go 20-13 overall last season, falling in the First round of the NCAA Tournament. Check back all season long for free college basketball picks at Sports Chat Place.
Eastern Illinois Panthers
The Panthers had a rough season last year, but to be fair it was an improvement over 2021-22’s 5-26 overall run. Eastern Illinois would finish 9-22 on the season with a 5-13 mark in OVC play, putting the team one game behind Little Rock for last place in the conference standings.
Marty Simmons enters his third year at the helm of the Panthers, and he’ll benefit from three returning starters from last season. Three incoming transfers are from the talent-loaded Chicago area, one of them being junior Nakyel Shelton. Last year at the community college level Shelton bagged 23.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. He’ll fit in nicely with returning sophomore Sincere Malone (6.7 PPG).
Illinois Fighting Illini
Over on the Illinois side, by most measures they were loaded with talent last season but just didn’t shoot or pass very well. The Illini had their ups and downs during a 20-13 campaign, going 11-9 overall in the Big Ten for a sixth-place finish in the standings. Illinois lost in the first round of both the conference tourney (79-76 to Penn State) and NCAA Tournament (73-63 to Arkansas).
In his seventh season, Illinois head coach Brad Underwood is looking to improve the on-court product with six returning players (three starters) from last year’s squad. Terrence Shannon, Coleman Hawkins, Ty Rodgers and Sencire Harris headline the veterans, and incoming transfers like Marcus Domask and Quincy Guerrier should have a big impact on the scoreboard.
ANDREW’S FREE PICK
I’m leaning toward the Illini in this one. Probably staying away from Illinois until we see the on-court product for a few games, though. (The line’s too thick to mess with anyway.) Specifically, Rodgers has the potential to reshape the Illini this season if he can amp up the shooting. Rodgers didn’t attempt a single 3-pointer last year over 574 total minutes so he didn’t garner much attention as a shooting threat from opposing defenses. If he can add that facet to his game in 2023-24, Rodgers will become a multilayered threat along with his passing and shot creation abilities. Shannon (2.8 APG) and Hawkins (3.0 APG) will share the load as assist men, which hopefully will propel Illinois to the next level of success. I like the Illini to start the season out hot—so long as the talent on paper translates to the court.