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Illinois vs. Morehead Prediction, Best Bets, and Odds

Written by: Tanner Kern
Published March 21, 2024
10 min read
  • Morehead State won the Ohio Valley Conference and was given a #14 seed

  • Illinois beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship to earn a #3 seed

  • The Cyclones were considered 8th best team in the tournament by the committee 

The Illinois Illini begin their quest for a championship against the Morehead State Eagles in the first round. Both teams were given a ticket to the East Region of the tournament, which is by far the most competitive throughout the bracket. 

The Eagles punched their ticket to the big dance by winning the Ohio Valley Conference. They dominated Little Rock 69-55 and earned a #14 seed in the NCAA Tournament. 

Illinois also secured an automatic bid by winning the Big Ten. The Illini went through the wringer in the conference, taking down Wisconsin 93-87 in the championship game to secure the #3 seed in the East Region. 

The opening tip between Morehead State and Illinois is scheduled for Thursday at 3:10 PM ET on truTV. Here, we will break down the game and give our best bets for the matchup. 

March Madness 2024 Betting Predictions and Promo Codes for Illinois vs Moorhead State

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Illinois vs. Morehead State Prediction and Odds 

Morehead State Eagles

Morehead State won’t back down in this spot, but they haven’t seen an offense like Illinois all season. The Eagles are 111th in the KenPom Rating. 

They’re balanced at 124th in adjusted offense and 120th in adjusted defense, but these metrics shouldn’t be good enough to keep Thursday’s game against the Illini close. Riley Minix is the player to watch for the Eagles, scoring 20.8 points per game with 9.8 rebounds. 

Minix is a dominant guard, but he doesn’t have much help throughout the roster. However, when he is hot from the field, he shoots 54.6%, so Illinois must shut him down to avoid an upset. 

Illinois Illini

History isn’t on Illinois’ side in the NCAA Tournament. The Illini haven’t reached the Sweet 16 since 2005, but they also haven’t been as talented as they are in 2024.

Illinois lost to Purdue twice in the regular season, but this didn’t stop them from winning the Big Ten Conference Tournament. The Illini had a battle in the Big Ten Championship against Wisconsin but ultimately pulled through thanks to great guard play.

Terrence Shannon Jr. willed Illinois to a win. He dropped 34 points in 36 minutes. Shannon finished the season third in the nation in points with 23 and shot 47% from the field.

The Illini finished 10th overall in the KenPom Rating and were led by the offense. They were fourth in adjusted offensive efficiency but 81st in adjusted defensive efficiency. Their defense has been a concern all season, but they can score, which is dangerous when they get hot on the field.

Illinois vs. Morehead State Pick

Morehead State is one of the best teams against the spread in the Ohio Valley Conference. They’re 19-11 against the spread, which is second in their conference.

However, Illinois is also a team that knows how to cover. The Illini are 18-13-3 against the spread and have played a much more challenging schedule this season.

The Eagles will put up a fight, but the Illini should get the best of Morehead State in the second half. We would be surprised if Illinois isn’t motivated to snap its history.

The best player on the floor belongs to Illinois in Shannon Jr. If Shannon Jr. plays his usual game, he should be the reason Illinois gets to the tournament's second round.

Lay the points with the Illini as they cruise to the second round. 

How to Watch Illinois vs. Morehead State

  • When: Thursday, March 21st @ 3:10 PM ET

  • Where: CHI Health Center, Omaha, NE

  • TV: truTV

  • Streaming: March Madness App

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AUTHOR

Tanner Kern

353 Articles

Tanner Kern has been working in the betting industry since 2020. He currently is a social media content creator at DraftKings and contributes to multiple sites in addition to WSN, including Forbes and VSiN. He is also the cohost of the podcast Ride the Line at WSN.

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