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Morehead State vs Illinois Prediction, Odds & Props to Bet (Mar. 21)

Brady Trettenero

by Brady Trettenero in College Basketball

Updated Mar 20, 2024 · 1:45 PM PDT

Illinois Fighting Illini guard Terrence Shannon Jr. looks on during the first half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers
Mar 16, 2024; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Terrence Shannon Jr. (0) looks on during the first half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
  • No. 3 Illinois and No. 14 Morehead State battle in Thursday Madness action
  • The college basketball odds favor the Fighting Illini at home
  • Read on for Illinois vs Morehead State prediction, odds, and player props

No. 3 Illinois (26-8) opens the 2024 March Madness tournament with a first-round matchup against No. 14 Morehead State (25-8) on Thursday afternoon. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:10 PM ET in Omaha, Nebraska, with truTV carrying the broadcast.

The college basketball March Madness odds favor the Fighting Illini by 11.5 points at home, while the over/under is set at 147.5. NCAAB player props are also available for Thursday’s match between Illinois and Morehead State.

Let’s get into our Morehead State vs Illinois prediction, as we determine the best bets to make.

Morehead State vs Illinois Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Morehead St +11.5 (-105) +550 Over 147.5 (-110)
Illinois -11.5 (-115) -800 Under 147.5 (-110)

In the Morehead State vs Illinois odds for Thursday, the Fighting Illini are heavy -800 spread favorites, giving them 89% implied win probability.

Neither of these teams cracks the top 10 in the 2024 March Madness odds, with Illinois sporting +2500 odds to win the tournament. Morehead State, meanwhile, is a +8000 longshot.


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Eagles Betting Trends

Morehead State enters this contest on a six-game winning streak following a 69-55 victory over Little Rock in the OVC tournament championship game. Riley Minix contributed 26 points and seven boards in the victory, marking the 12th time in the past 13 games he’s gone over 20 points.

Minx’s point total for Thursday is set at 19.5 in the college basketball player props, with plus-money odds on the over. We’re targeting that line in our Eagles vs Illini prediction.

The Eagles boast an experienced roster led by several standout seniors. Senior guard Drew Thelwell has been a part of all 94 wins since he arrived in 2020, recently setting the school single-season assist record. Another guard, Kalil Thomas, is in the top 20 nationally with 103 3-pointers this season.

Morehead State ranks 71st nationally in offense this season, averaging 77 points per game. Defensively, they are allowing 65 points per contest (106th). The Eagles have excelled at three-point shooting.

Turning to the betting trends, Morehead State was 9-7 straight up as the visiting team this season. They were also 9-7 against the spread on the road, while sporting an 18-11-1 ATS record overall.

Fighting Illini Betting Trends

Illinois enters its opening March Madness game on a four-game winning streak, including a 93-87 victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Title Game. Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 34 points on 15-for-17 shooting from the free-throw line, while Marcus Domask added 26 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds.

A major storyline surrounding the Fighting Illini is the team’s inability to advance past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. In three straight years, Illinois has lost its opening game, including last season, when it fell to Arkansas as small underdogs.

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The Fighting Illini are led by the dynamic one-two punch of guard Terrence Shannon Jr. and forward Marcus Domask, who average 23.0 and 16.0 points a game, respectively. These two stars have played a big role in the team owning the eighth-best offense nationally (84.4 points/GP).

While Illinois can put up points with ease, their defense is lackluster. The Fighting Illini are allowing 73.8 points per game, which ranks 242nd in the country. Brad Underwood’s team is 15-3 at home but has only covered the spread in eight of those games.

Morehead State vs Illinois Prediction

This spread is in line with college basketball advanced metrics. Ken Pom, one of the most trusted CBB rating systems, is predicting an 82-70 victory for the Fighting Illini in Omaha. The system ranks the Illini 92nd in defensive efficiency, which is quite superior to what the numbers might indicate.

While we like Illinois to secure victory on Thursday, we see value in Morehead State against the spread. Illinois had an easier path in the Big Ten tournament, beating teams like Ohio State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin, which are not top-tier opponents within the conference.

According to historical CBB betting trends, Big Ten champions are only 2-7 against the spread in the last nine years following Selection Sunday. Furthermore, NCAA tournament favorites with a point spread of 10.5 or more have a win rate of only 44.8% against the spread.

Morehead State has the x-factor in this game with Riley Minix, who is capable of putting the team on his back. Not to mention, the Eagles’ bread-and-butter is their three-point shooting, and the Illini’s 3-point defense ranks 214th nationally and 13th in the conference.

 MSU vs ILL Picks:

  • Morehead State +11.5 (-105)
  • Riley Minix Over 19.5 Points (+100)


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