Illinois vs Houston Prediction, Game Preview: NCAA Tournament Second Round

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Illinois vs Houston Prediction, Game Preview: NCAA Tournament Second Round

College Football Predictions

Illinois vs Houston Prediction, Game Preview: NCAA Tournament Second Round

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Illinois vs Houston prediction: NCAA Tournament Second Round pick and college basketball game preview.


Illinois vs Houston Game Preview, How To Watch

Date: Sunday, March 20
Game Time: 12:10 pm
Venue: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
How To Watch: CBS
Records: Illinois (4 seed, 23-9)
Houston (5 seed, 30-5)
Region: South

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Why Houston Will Win

The Cougars are in tournament mode now.

They might have tripped at Memphis to end the regular season, and they’ve had a few brain cramps along the finishing kick, but they’re cranking up the intensity and focus as they look just as strong as the Final Four team of last year.

That’s a dangerous Memphis team – and it got whacked by 18 in the American Athletic Conference Championship.

That’s a high-powered UAB team Houston faced in the first round – and it was over a few minutes into the 82-68 Cougar win.

Teams haven’t been all that bad from the field against the Houston defense over the last few games, but it’s still the No. 1 defense in the nation in field goal percentage, and forget about ever getting a clean look from three.

Illinois was able to slip past Chattanooga, but the Mocs did a strong job of denying the Illini offense to work inside. Illinois kept starting up the offense from deep, it hit 3-of-17 from three, and it barely got out alive.

This isn’t a great-shooting team lately – going under 40% in three of the last four games – when it’s not able to crank up the inside game with …

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Why Illinois Will Win

Kofi Cockburn.

He’s used to getting hammered, and he’s used to dealing with 12 guys hanging on him every time he gets the ball, but Illinois needs to work everything into him when Houston sells out to stop the three.

There will be openings there. The Cougars might be devastating defensively, but they’ll foul a whole bunch and they’re in big trouble if this gets into a battle of free throws.

Illinois is 13-1 when Cockburn scores more than 20 points – the one loss came to Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament – which feeds into the team’s overall field goal percentage.

The Illini have to move the ball around more, and they have to attack Houston and not let the defense dictate the possession. They’re 19-1 when they make 42% or more of their shots.

Again, Houston is amazing defensively, but it’s allowed more than 42% from the field in the each of the last three games.

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Illinois vs Houston: What’s Going To Happen

Houston will get on the move and Illinois won’t quite be able to keep up.

When the Cougars are working they look like they have six guys on the floor. Illinois doesn’t take the ball away at all – it’s not matching Houston in steals here – and it’s going to have a few dry spells along the way.

Cockburn will have his moments, but the Illini three pointers won’t drop enough to overcome the rest of the team’s offensive lulls.

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Illinois vs Houston Prediction: NCAA Tournament Second Round, Lines

Prediction: Houston 70, Illinois 65
Line: Houston -4.5, o/u: 133.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3

Illinois vs Houston Must See Rating: 4.5

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