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Chattanooga Vs. Illinois March Madness Betting Odds And Preview

The Chattanooga Mocs were the Southern Conference regular-season champions, but that didn’t necessarily mean much to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Trailing Furman in the waning seconds of the conference title game, the Mocs needed a miracle.

David Jean-Baptiste provided one. Baptiste’s 3-pointer lifted the Mocs to a 64-63 win and secured the conference’s automatic tournament bid. Considering the SoCon has never sent two teams to the NCAA Tournament, it’s safe to say that Jean-Baptiste’s shot from deep was a difference-maker.

The question now is whether Chattanooga (27-7) has an even bigger win up its sleeve? It will take a performance for the ages to upset Illinois (22-9) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The teams square off Friday at 6:50 p.m. ET in a South Region matching at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. Every Tennessee sports betting app lists No. 4 seed Illinois as a solid favorite against the No. 13 Mocs.

Bet on the Vols, too: March Madness betting odds for Tennessee vs. Longwood

Chattanooga Vs. Illinois Betting Odds

Illinois enters Friday’s game as an 8-point favorite at both Caesars Tennessee and DraftKings Tennessee. The oddsmakers at BetMGM Tennessee and FanDuel Tennessee have it a bit closer as the Illini are laying 7.5 points to Chattanooga.

All four sportsbooks have the total set at 135.5 points. If you want to take Chattanooga and the points at FanDuel, the vig is -106. It’s -114 if you take Illinois to cover.

The best option for those picking Chattanooga to cover is at Caesars, where you’ll get 8 points, and the Mocs’ moneyline is +285. The moneyline on Chattanooga is +270 at both FanDuel and DraftKings, and +280 at BetMGM.

If you’re picking Illinois to cover, BetMGM is the best play as the Fighting Illini are laying 7.5 points at -110. If picking Illinois on the moneyline, FanDuel is the best option at -345.

Illinois’ Depth A Key Advantage Against Chattanooga

In guard Malachi Smith, Chattanooga has a player who will draw heavy attention from Illinois anytime he’s on the floor. The SoCon Player of the Year, Smith averaged 20.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. Smith’s a threat from anywhere, connecting on 41.5% of his three-pointers this season.

Jean-Baptiste averages 14.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists, while forward Silvio De Sousa adds 11.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Forward Darius Banks (8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds), and guard A.J. Caldwell (5.0 points, 3.1 rebounds) are the other top threats for the Mocs.

Illinois, however, is loaded and has faced higher quality opponents in the Big Ten than Chattanooga encountered in the Southern Conference.

Illinois is led by center Kofi Cockburn, who averages 21.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. He’s joined atop the offensive charts by a quartet of guards.

Alfonso Plummer averages 14.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists, while Trent Frazier adds 12.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. Jacob Grandison contributes 10.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.4 assists, and Andre Curbelo chips in with 8.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists.

Illinois is 4-4 vs. Top 25 opponents this season, while Chattanooga didn’t face a ranked team all season. Illinois is coming off a 65-63 loss to Indiana in the Big Ten Conference quarterfinals.

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