Illinois Fighting Illi vs. Duke Blue Devils – NCAAB, December 8, 2020

By Dean McHugh in College Basketball
| December 8, 2020 10:21 am PDT

Two of the NCAA big boys come to play at the Cameron Indoor Stadium, and although victory so early on in the season won’t affect the standings too much, it will surely boost the winning team’s confidence and give them a platform to build on.

Both sides have tasted defeat once so far this season as Duke went down to another one of the NCAA heavyweights Michigan State and Illinois lost last time out to Baylor in their first away fixture of the season.

Fighting Illi vs. Blue Devils Odds

Fighting Illi +3.5-107
Blue Devils -3.5-110
Fighting Illi To Win+145
Blue Devils To Win-175
Total Points Over 146.5-108
Total Points Under 146.5-110

The match odds pretty much reflect the post-season predictions in that there isn’t much between these two sides, and quite frankly, the form book doesn’t separate them much either, having both lost one game each.

Fighting Illi Form

Illinois’ perfect unbeaten start to the season ended with a bang last time out against Baylor as they were comfortably beaten by 13 points. It was a close first half with only one point separating the sides, but Baylor pulled away in the second half to record the win. In all fairness, not many teams will travel to Baylor and come away with the win, but the way that they faded in the second half was slightly worrying.

Prior to that, they started the season with huge wins of 62 and 59 over North Carolina A & T and Chicago State and narrowly avoided an upset by beating Ohio by two.

After playing three sides that they would definitely be expected to beat, they find themselves with a large average points per game total of just over 91. They only managed to post 69 points against Baylor, so I wouldn’t get too carried away by their average.

However, they do have a good field goal percentage, scoring at 53%, as well as averaging just under 50 rebounds per game. Their blocks and steals average per game is low, so this is areas that they will look to improve on as the season progresses.

Guard Ayo Dosunmu has certainly hit the ground running this year as he currently averages 23 points per game, seven rebounds, and six assists. Again you could question the caliber of opponents he has faced, but he still managed to score 18 against Baylor last week, which was a decent return.

Duke Form

As previously mentioned, the Blue Devils season has followed a similar pattern to that of Illinois. They won the two matches that they were overwhelming favorites to win against both Coppin State and Bellarmine but lost when they came up against decent opposition in Michigan State.

The Blue Devils have only won in the second half of the three that they have played, and we have seen that Illinois faded badly against Baylor last week, so a fast start will be key here.

Statistically, Duke has been fairly average to date, but they will need to severely improve on their poor field goal percentage of 45% if they are to trouble Illinois. However, they do have a far superior block and steal rate per game, so if they can get the ball away from the Fighting Illi, then they will look to push that field goal percentage up and above the 50% line.

Fighting Illi vs. The Blue Devils Betting Pick

Pick
  • Blue Devils To Win
    -175

There isn’t a great deal between these two teams, so I believe home-court advantage could tip the scales towards the Blue Devils. Especially when you see how Illinois performed last time out in their only away game of the season so far.

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