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Updated Illinois vs. Chattanooga Odds, Spread, Pick & Predictions for 2022 NCAA Tournament

by March 13, 2022
Kofi Cockburn

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Chattanooga Mocs 2022 NCAA Tournament Game Preview

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Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Chattanooga Mocs Match Up Overview

Chattanooga Illinois
Conference Southern Big Ten
W-L 27-7 22-9
AdjEM 72nd 17th
AdjO 57th 23rd
AdjD 94th 31st
Tempo 302nd 177th
eFG% 59th 47th
TO% 85th 123rd
OR% 48th 35th
FTR 272nd 130th
DeFG% 158th 30th
DTO% 196th 424th
DR% 98th 76th
DFTR 97th 127th
Luck 127th 124th

 
Stats via KenPom.

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Illinois Fighting Illini Preview

Despite their early exit from the conference tournament, Illinois could be the Big Ten’s best chance at a title. They are well-rounded, ranking top 30 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and they can go blow for blow with the best of them. Illinois put up a fight against Arizona, went two overtimes with Purdue, and took down the likes of Iowa and Wisconsin.

Kofi Cockburn is the anchor of this team. The 7-0 big man can do it all and only seems to be improving, going off in three of his last four games. According to Evan Miya, the starting lineup of Kofi Cockburn, Trent Frazier, Jacob Grandison, Alfonso Plummer, and Da’Monte Williams ranks fifth in the nation in efficiency. The more their starting five can be on the floor, the better this team fares.

Illinois struggles when facing other prolific big men or teams with solid interior defenses. Illinois shot 50% or below in all of their losses, including clunkers against Cincinnati and Maryland,

But this team has developed well, and when fully healthy, they can do it all. They allow nearly nothing near the rim, as teams are shooting just 56.8% with their near-proximity looks. I trust this team the most out of all the Big Ten entrants.

Chattanooga Mocs Preview

After taking down the Southern Conference, Chattanooga seems poised for a Cinderella run. The Mocs have some serious talent, led by Malachi Smith and David Jean Baptiste – one of the better backcourts in the tournament. Kansas transfer Silvio De Sousa has played against his fair share of top-end talent, which should help this squad prepare for whoever they may face.

Chattanooga is one of the most well-rounded mid-major teams out there, ranking top-100 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Their playmakers allow this squad to score anywhere on the floor, and they rebound at a high clip, capitalizing on second-chance looks.

The way to beat this team is down low. Their interior defense is in the bottom half of the nation, as they play outside-in, limiting exterior shots. Attacking this team down low while speeding up their slower pace has been shown to work, as the Mocs have had some duds against teams such as Western Carolina and Charleston.

Rapid Prediction for Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Chattanooga Mocs

Illinois has won at least 20 games in three consecutive seasons. After appearing as a No. 1 in last year’s NCAA Tournament, the Illini are viewed by many as under-seeded, given their share of the regular-season Big Ten championship. However, they drew arguably the best No. 13 seed in the Chattanooga Mocs, who has elite size at every position unlike most mid-major teams. The Mocs will have to deal with Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn, the only player in Division I averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds this season. No. 13 seeds are 5-7 in the first round of the last three tournaments, and it would not shock many if this was one of the 4-13 upsets in this tournament.

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Chattanooga Mocs Round 1 Game Pick

Chattanooga +7.5

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College Basketball, Game Preview, March Madness, Picks, South Region