NCAA Tournament East Region Preview: #7 Illinois Fighting Illini vs #10 Colorado Buffaloes

2013 NCAA Tournament – East Region Second Round
#7 Illinois Fighting Illini vs #10 Colorado Buffaloes
Friday, March 22, 2013, 4:40 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Frank Erwin Special Events Center – Austin, Texas

Opening Line: Illinois -1
Current Line: Illinois -1
Opening Total: 128 1/2
Current Total: 127
Opening Money Line: Illinois -120 / Colorado +100
Current Money Line: Illinois -120 / Colorado +100

Illinois is a 1 point favorite over Colorado in the east region second round in Austin.
Illinois is a 1 point favorite over Colorado in the east region second round in Austin.

Illinois started off the season 12-0 but went 10-12 for the rest of the season. 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 will take on #10 seed Colorado in the second round Friday in Austin. The winner will face either #2 Miami or #15 Pacific in the third round Sunday. Colorado is 21-11 this season and was fifth in the Pac 12 with a 10-8 record. The Buffaloes lost to Arizona 79-69 in the Pac 12 quarters. Illinois leads the series 3-1 against Colorado, but the two teams haven’t played since 1987.

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 12-18 ATS and the total is 12-16 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.

Colorado is coached by Tad Boyle. Colorado has losses at Wyoming, Kansas, Arizona twice, Arizona St, and Washington, Cal twice, Utah, Arizona St, Oregon St and UCLA. The Buffaloes have key wins over Dayton, Baylor and Murray St in a tournament in Charleston, at home against Air Force, Colorado St, USC, and Stanford twice, Arizona and Utah,  along with road wins at Fresno St and Washington St, Oregon twice, and Oregon St. Colorado is 16-13-1 ATS and the total is 7-16 this season.

Colorado is outscoring teams 68-64 this season. The Buffaloes are shooting 43.6% from the field and 34.7% from 3 point range. The Buffaloes make 68.4% of their free throws. Colorado averages 37.2 rebounds per game and give up 30.8 to opponents. Buffaloes’ opponents are shooting 40.4% from the field and 32.3% from 3 point range. Colorado is averaging 10 assists, 7 steals, 3 blocks, and 13 turnovers per game.

Colorado guard Spencer Dinwiddie averages 15.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Guard Askia Booker averages 12.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Josh Scott averages 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Andre Roberson averages 10.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.2 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. Xavier Johnson averages 9 points and 4.8 rebounds. Sabatino Chen averages 4.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists. Jeremy Adams, Xavier Talton, Shane Harris-Tunks and Eli Stalzer make up the rest of the rotation, but none play more than 10 minutes a game. Harris-Tunks is probable with an ankle injury.

Colorado is 4-1-1 ATS after failing to cover, 4-1 against Big Ten teams, 7-2 in non-conference games, 7-2-1 in neutral site games, 3-1-1 after a straight up loss, 8-3 against teams with winning records, and 1-3-1 overall.

Illinois is 6-13 after a straight up loss, 8-18 in neutral site games, 1-4 after failing to cover, in non-conference games, and against teams with winning records, and 1-6 overall.

Both of these team went into a slump at the end of the regular season. Both teams are also very similar in the way they play. Colorado is a better rebounding team, but otherwise they are almost even statistically. This game si almost a toss-up, but I like Colorado to pull off the mild upset.

Our college basketball handicappers are crushing the books in March. Don’t miss out on any winners fro the rest of the tournament.




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