Illinois vs Chattanooga: NCAA Tournament First Round prediction and college basketball game preview.
Illinois vs Chattanooga Game Preview, NCAA Tournament First Round How To Watch
Date: Friday, March 18
Game Time: 6:50 pm
Venue: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
How To Watch: TNT
Records: Illinois (4 seed, 22-9)
Chattanooga (13 seed, 27-7)
Why Chattanooga Will Win
There’s a whole lot to be afraid of with this 13 seed.
The Southern Conference regular season and tournament champ is loaded with veterans, it has the size to hold up with what Illinois star Kofi Cockburn brings, and it knows hot to crank up the defense.
It’s great at stopping the three – or, at least it’s good at keeping teams from going off – and it has a nice blend of rebounding ability and interior scoring to be a big, big problem if the Illini aren’t slowing down the experienced guards.
Illinois doesn’t force mistakes and it’s had some bizarre lapses in a wildly inconsistent season – even if it did steal a piece of the Big Ten regular season championship.
Why Illinois Will Win
Before putting Chattanooga in the Final Four, there’s one giant problem with this team …
It beat NO ONE.
Oh sure, all the metric types love this team, and the hoop hipsters want to tell you they were in before it was cool, but the big win was … Furman? Besides owning the Paladins, the Mocs were solid against Wofford, and VCU, and Samford, and they lost to the one good team on the slate – Murray State – by 11.
That doesn’t mean they can’t play and can’t pull this off, but they haven’t seen or played anything remotely close to what’s coming out of that other tunnel.
For all of its flaws, Illinois is great from the field, it grabs seemingly every rebound, and it’s about to come up with at least ten offensive boards against a team that’s used to owning the rebounding margin.
And remember …
Illinois vs Chattanooga: What’s Going To Happen
This Illinois team still burns over bowing out in the second round against Loyola last year.
It’s not the same squad, but it’s a veteran bunch that’s well rested after getting knocked out of the Big Ten Tournament right away. It’s not going deep in this tournament, but it’ll get to the weekend.
Yes, Chattanooga has the make-up to pull this off, and no, you’re not crazy for making the 13-over-4 call. But Illinois – if it really is the Big Ten co-regular season champion like the t-shirt says – should be too much of a talent upgrade for the Mocs, especially inside.
Illinois vs Chattanooga: NCAA Tournament First Round Prediction, Lines
Illinois 77, Chattanooga 68
Line: Illinois -8, o/u: 135.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3
CFN Experts Picks Illinois vs Chattanooga
Illinois vs Chattanooga Must See Rating: 3
5: Sunshine Protection Act
1: Having to change every digital clock that didn’t get the memo this fall