NCAA Tournament East Third Round: #2 Miami Hurricanes vs #7 Illinois Fighting Illini

2013 NCAA Tournament – East Region Third Round
#2 Miami Hurricanes vs #7 Illinois Fighting Illini
Sunday, March 24, 2013, 8:40 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Frank Erwin Special Events Center – Austin, Texas
Opening Line: Miami -5
Current Line: Miami -8
Opening Total: 128
Current Total: 128 1/2
Opening Money Line: Miami -275 / Illinois +235
Current Money Line: Miami -350 / Illinois +290

Miami is an 8 point favorite against Illinois Sunday in Austin.
Miami is an 8 point favorite against Illinois Sunday in Austin.

The 28-6 Miami Hurricanes are having the best year in the history of the basketball program. Of course the Hurricanes have won national championships in football and baseball, but have never had much success in basketball. The Hurricanes finished 15-3 in the ACC and won the regular season tittle outright with a 15-3 record . Miami also won the ACC tournament by beating North Carolina 87-77 in the championship game. The Hurricanes were seeded #2 in the East Region and took out #15 seed Pacific 78-49 in the second round Friday.

The Hurricanes will take on #7 Illinois in the third round Sunday in Austin. The winner will take #3 Marquette in the East regional semifinals next week in Washington, DC. Illinois started off the season 12-0 but have gone 11-12 since to go 23-12. The Illini went 8-10 in the Big Ten and were tied with Minnesota and Purdue for 7th in the conference. Illinois lost to Indiana 80-64 in the Big Ten semifinals. many thought Illinois was on the bubble for the  NCAA tournament, but the Illini were given the #7 seed in the East. Illinois beat #10 Colorado 57-49 in the second round. Illinois beat Miami in the only previous meeting between the schools in 1968.

Miami is coached by Jim Larranaga. The Hurricanes have losses at Florida Gulf Coast, to Arizona and Indiana St in tournament in Hawaii and at Wake Forest, Duke, and Georgia Tech. Miami has key wins over Detroit, Michigan St, at UMass, Charlotte, at Central Florida, at Hawaii, LaSalle, at Georgia Tech, North Carolina three times, Maryland, Boston College three times, Duke, Florida St twice, Clemson twice, Virginia, at Virginia Tech,  NC State twice and Virginia Tech. Miami is 21-9-1 ATS and the total is 12-16-1 this season.

Miami is outscoring teams 70-61 this season. The Hurricanes are #41 in points allowed nationally. Miami is shooting 46% from the field and 35.8% from 3 point range. The Hurricanes make 67.7% of their free throws. Miami averages 35.8 rebounds per game, and give up 29.2. Hurricane opponents are shooting 39.9% from the field and 32.6% from 3 point range. The Hurricanes average 11 assists, 6 steals, 5 blocks, and 11 turnovers.

Guard Shane Larkin averages 14.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 2 steals per game. Guard Durand Scott averages 13.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He is probable with a back injury. Forward/center Kenny Kadji averages 13.3 points, 7 rebounds, an assist, and 1.3 blocks per game. Guard Trey McKinney-Jones averages 9.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. Center Reggie Johnson averages 7 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block per game.  Julian Gamble and Rion Brown each average around 6 points per game. Garrius Adams has missed the whole season with a knee injury and is out indefinitely. Guard Bishop Daniels left the team in December.

Illinois is coached by John  Groce, in his first year. The Illini have losses to Missouri in St. Louis, road losses at Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan St, Iowa and Ohio St along with home losses to Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan twice and Wisconsin. Illinois has key wins at Hawaii, Gonzaga, Nebraska twice, Minnesota twice, and Northwestern, against USC and Butler in the Maui Invitational (a tournament the Illini won),  and home wins over Georgia Tech, Auburn, Ohio St, Indiana, and Purdue, and Penn St. The Illini have lost 4 of their last 6 games after a 5 game winning streak. Illinois is 13-18 ATS and the total is 12-17 this season.

Illinois is outscoring teams 69-65 this season. The Illini are shooting 41.6% from the field and 32.5% from 3 point range. Illinois makes 72.5% of their free throws. The Illini average 33.5 rebounds per game, and give up 31.2. Illini opponents are shooting 42.7% from the field and 34.3% from 3 point range. Illinois averages 10 assists, 7 steals, 4 blocks, and 12 turnovers a game.

Guard Brandon Paul averages 16.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Guard D.J. Richardson averages 12.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Guard Tracy Abrams averages 10.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Guard Joseph Bertrand averages 7.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1 steal a game. Forward Tyler Griffey averages 7.1 points and 3.3 rebounds. Forward/center Nnanna Egwu averages 6.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. Sam McLaurin and Myke Henry also get time in the rotation, but no other Illini player averages more than 4 points a game.

Illinois is 4-1 ATS against ACC teams, 7-17 after a cover, 8-21 in Sunday games, 2-6 overall, 0-4 after a straight up win, and after allowing less than 50 points.

Miami is 4-0 ATS overall, and in neutral site games, 5-1-1 after a straight win of 20 points or more, 19-6-1 after a straight up win, 6-2 in Sunday games, 15-5-1 after a cover, 18-7-1 against teams with winning records, 43-17-1 in non-conference games, 5-2 in NCAA tournament games, and 2-5 against Big Ten teams.

If Illinois can get the rebounding edge against Miami, then the Illini have a great shot of pulling off the upset. Both teams have are comfortable playing in the 60’s. Illinois has been a  little inconsistent recently, but they still have a talented team. I like Miami to pull out a close win though.

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