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Illinois vs UConn Predictions, Picks & Player Props for Elite Eight (March 30)

Sascha Paruk

by Sascha Paruk in College Basketball

Updated Mar 30, 2024 · 8:08 AM PDT

Illinois Fighting Illini guard Terrence Shannon Jr dribbling
Mar 28, 2024; Boston, MA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Terrence Shannon Jr. (0) dribbles the ball against the Illinois Fighting Illini n the semifinals of the East Regional of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
  • The #3 Illinois Fighting Illini and #1 UConn Huskies meet in the 2024 Elite Eight on Saturday, March 30
  • Connecticut is a heavy nine-point favorite at TD Garden in Boston, MA
  • See the Illinois vs UConn predictions, player props, and picks

Dating back to last season’s national-championship run, the #1 UConn Huskies (34-3, 9-0 neutral, 25-12 ATS) continue to destroy every team they meet in the NCAA Tournament, winning nine straight games by at least 13 points, including Thursday’s 30-point demolition of #5 San Diego State (82-52).

On Saturday, UConn matches up with the #3 Illinois Fighting Illini in the East Region Elite Eight at TD Garden in Boston at 6:09 pm ET. UConn opened as a 7.5-point favorite on Thursday night but that line has been bet up considerably.

Illinois vs UConn Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
 Illinois Fighting Illini +9 (-110) +330 O 155.5 (-115)
UConn Huskies -9 (-110) -425 U 155.5 (-105)

The Huskies are now nine-point chalk in the Illinois vs UConn odds and -425 to win straight-up (shortening from -325 in the opening odds). The Illini are +330 moneyline underdogs to win their eighth straight game, which includes a run to the Big Ten Tournament title. The game total has come down one point from 156.5 to 155.5 as of Saturday morning.

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Odds as of March 30. Claim the Fanatics Sportsbook promo to bet on the 2024 Elite Eight. 

UConn started the 2024 NCAA Tournament as +110 favorites to win the East Region in the Final Four odds. Illinois was the +700 fourth-favorite in the East on Selection Sunday.

Illinois Takes Down Iowa State to Reach First Elite Eight Since 2005

The Illini had a fairly easy run to the Sweet 16, running over #14 Morehead State (89-63) and then getting a favorable draw against #11 Duquesne, who upset #6 BYU in the first round. Illinois took full advantage, blowing the doors off the Dukes 89-63, including a 50-26 edge in the first half.

The free ride came to an end in the Sweet 16 where the Illini faced #2 Iowa State, owners of the nation’s most-efficient defense. But Terrence Shannon Jr and company used another big first-half performance (36-26) to edge out the Cyclones (72-69).

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Shannon (23.5 PPG) finished with a team-high 29 points in the Iowa State victory and is now averaging 28.3 PPG in the tournament.

Illinois’ defense – rated just 84th at KenPom – played one of its best games of the season, holding the Cyclones to just 39.7% from the field and finishing +4 on the boards.

UConn Blows Out San Diego State (Again)

A year after taking down the Aztecs in the national championship game (76-59), #1 UConn put the boots to #5 San Diego State again on Thursday night in the Sweet 16. The Aztecs stayed within contact in the first half, which ended with a 40-31 UConn lead. But the second half was all Huskies, who held a double-digit lead for the last 18 minutes of their 30-point victory.

UConn’s guard trio of Cam Spencer, Tristen Newton, and Stephon Castle all scored between 16 and 18 points while the Huskies absolutely dominated the glass (50 to 29), making up for a subpar 30-of-65 (46.2%) performance form the field.

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UConn trounced #16 Stetson (91-52) in the first round and #8 Northwestern (75-58) in the second. Dating back to the regular season, UConn has now held six of its last seven opponents to 60 points or fewer.

The Huskies rate first in overall efficiency at both KenPom and Haslametrics, and it’s no longer close. At +34.09, UConn is nearly three full points ahead of #2 Houston, which bowed out in the Sweet 16 to Duke last night.

ILL vs UConn Player Props

Player Points Rebounds Assists Three-Pointers Made
Alex Karaban (UConn) 13.5 (Ov -115 | Un -125) 4.5 (Ov -115 | Un -125) OFF 1.5 (Ov -190 | Un +145)
Cam Spencer (UConn) 15.5 (Ov -115 | Un -125) 4.5 (Ov +125 | Un -165) 3.5 (Ov  -130 | Un -110) 2.5 (Ov +115 | Un -155)
Coleman Hawkins (ILL) 10.5 (Ov -110 | Un -130) 6.5 (Ov +120 | Un -160) 2.5 (Ov  -115 | Un -125) 1.5 (Ov +110 | Un -150)
Donovan Clingan (UConn) 14.5 (Ov -110 | Un -130) 8.5 (Ov -140 | Un -100) OFF OFF
Marcus Domask (ILL) 14.5 (Ov -115 | Un -125) 5.5 (Ov -115 | Un -125) 4.5 (Ov  +105 | Un -145) 1.5 (Ov -120 | Un -120)
Quincy Guerrier (ILL) 6.5 (Ov -1420| Un -120) 4.5 (Ov -100 | Un -140) OFF 0.5 (Ov -120 | Un -120)
Stephon Castle (UConn) 10.5 (Ov -145 | Un +105) 4.5 (Ov -120 | Un -120) 2.5 (Ov  +110 | Un -150) 0.5
Terrence Shannon Jr (ILL) 22.5 (Ov -110 | Un -130) 3.5 (Ov -140 | Un -100) 2.5 (Ov  +125 | Un -165) 2.5 (Ov +125 | Un -165)
Tristen Newtson (UConn) 16.5 (Ov -105 | Un -135) 6.5 (Ov -120 | Un -120) 5.5 (Ov -150 | Un +110) 2.5 (Ov +135| Un -175)

College basketball player props from DraftKings on March 30. 

Shannon has the highest point total of the night at 22.5 but five different UConn players (all the starters) are at 10.5 or higher, led by Tristen Newton at 16.5.

UConn center Donovan Clingan, who’s grabbed at least __ rebounds in the first three tournament games, has a game-high rebound total of 8.5 O/U.

Illinois vs UConn Prediction

If the Illini can keep this game within single-digits, they will be the first team to do so against UConn since the 2022 Tournament, when the Huskies bowed out to New Mexico in the first round.

But Illinois is not built like most college basketball teams. The Illini now have the number two offense in DI in terms of efficiency and Shannon is arguably the most-dynamic player in the country.

The real key to this game will be whether Illinois can contend on the glass. The Illini currently rank an excellent 17th in offensive-rebound percentage and a solid 64th on defense, which are remarkably similar rankings to UConn (12th offense and 79th on defense). Illinois’ trio of Coleman Hawkins, Dain Dainja, and Quincy Guerrier give head coach Brad Underwood a trio of big, athletic bodies to battle in the post.

On paper, Illinois is uniquely suited to matchup with this UConn freight train. They have the firepower to keep up on offense and the athleticism to contend on defense.

ILL vs UConn pick: Illinois moneyline (+330)

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