Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:45 AM

Drexel vs. Illinois Predictions, Odds, Preview


Mar. 19, 2021

NCAA BK Expert
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Drexel vs. Illinois Predictions

The Drexel Dragons will square off with the Illinois Fighting Illini on Friday at 1:15 p.m. on TBS in a Midwest Region game, and the Illini will be the first No. 1 seed to officially get underway in this year's NCAA Tournament. The two will do battle at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.

The Dragons had a nice combination in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament, playing good basketball with several upsets earlier in the tournament taking down some top seeds. They beat Elon in the league final, 63-56, taking down a Phoenix team which surprised the likes of Hofstra and James Madison. The Dragons only played one "major" team this season, falling 83-74 at Pittsburgh in the opener on Nov. 28 and narrowly covering a 10-point number.

The Illini secured a No. 1 seed by pushing past Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. It was a nice payoff for an Illini team which weathered the storm of playing several games late in the season without its top player, Ayo Dosunmu due to a broken nose. To be the best you have to beat the best, and Illinois did just that with wins over Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State (x2) in the final seven games, while going 6-1 ATS since Feb. 25.

Drexel is happy to be here. Illinois is not just satisfied to be back in the NCAA Tournament, they're looking to bring home some hardware to Champaign. This one might start out a little bit slow as they work out the kinks, but they'll kick it into high gear with no chance of an upset in Indy.

  • Score Prediction: Illinois 89 Drexel 62
  • Best Bets - Side: Illinois -23
  • Best Bets - Total: OVER 144.5

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Drexel vs. Illinois Betting Odds

Line Movements

  • Spread: Illinois -23
  • Total: 144.5
  • Money-Line: Illinois -7000 Drexel +1700

Odds to Win NCAA Tournament

Odds to Win Midwest Regional

Odds Subject to Change

First Round Predictions

Friday's Early Action - Mar. 19
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Handicapping Drexel vs. Illinois

The Dragons don't have to apologize to anyone for being here. They got hot at the right time. They're on a season-high four-game win streak, and they're 3-0-1 ATS across the stretch. The CAA title game against Elon was a low-scoring game, hitting the UNDER by 11 points, but the OVER is on a 5-1 run for the Dragons across the past six.

The Illini were on a season-high 6-0 ATS run from Feb. 25 through the Iowa game in the Big Ten tourney on Mar. 13. They failed to cover in the title game against Ohio State, winning 91-88 in overtime as 6.5-point faves. The OVER hit in that OT game, but the UNDER was 3-1 for the Illini heading into that one.

Illinois is a high-octane offense, ranking 18th in the nation during the regular season with 80.7 PPG while checking in ninth nationally with a 50.0 field-goal percentage. They're also 20th from the perimeter, hitting 38.2% of their three-pointers. If the Illini have an Achilles' heel, it's from the free-throw line of all places, going for just 68.6% or 243rd overall.

Drexel doesn't have the size, and they do not have the defense to contain the No. 1 seed for very long. This one might get away from the Dragons in a hurry, with the backdoor cover a concern late with the Illini perhaps getting some less experienced players the opportunity to enter late in the second half.

  • Region: Midwest
  • Matchup: 1 vs. 16
  • Venue: Indiana Farmers Coliseum
  • Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Date: Mar. 19, 2021
  • TV-Time: TBS - 1:15 p.m. (ET)

Handicapping Resources: March Madness Central | NCAA Consensus Picks

Betting Stats & Analysis - Drexel Dragons

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

The Dragons managed a 12-7 SU record, which wasn't terribly impressive, but they were 12-5-2 ATS overall, and they never has consecutive games with non-covers. That is pretty impressive.

Drexel really didn't play a challenging schedule, so it's going to be interesting how they handle facing one of the best teams in the nation. The Dragons enter 3-0-1 ATS in the past four games, a season best run. They're also 4-0-1 ATS across the past five neutral-site games, and they're 5-2 ATS across the past seven as an underdog. Drexel is also 4-1 ATS in the past five against teams with a winning overall record.

As far as totals are concerned, Drexel started out with several UNDER results early in the season, but the OVER ruled the day late. The OVER is 5-1 in the past six games overall, and 11-3 in their past 14 games as an underdog.

Seed: 16
Conference: CAA
Bid: Auto

  • SU: 10-6
  • ATS: 12-4
  • O/U: 9-7
  • Current Form (Last 5): 4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS, 3-2 O/U
  • Notable Wins: None
  • PS/G: 71.5 (171st)
  • PA/G: 66.8 (80th)
  • Off Rtg: 108.4 (56th)
  • Def Rtg: 101.4 (206th)

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Betting Stats & Analysis - Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois has cashed in six of the past seven games overall, and they have stacked wins and covers going 5-1 ATS across the past six after a straight-up victory. They have also bounced back very nicely following a non-cover, going 6-2 ATS across the past eight after an ATS loss. In fact, Illinois has just three instances of non-covers in consecutive games. They never had an 0-3 ATS skid at any point. That helped the Illini go 18-10-1 ATS overall.

The OVER has connected in five of the past six for Illinois as a favorite, while going 10-2 ATS in their past 12 following a non-cover.

A lot of people might look at the NCAA Tournament trends and consider the UNDER, but those trends can mostly be discounted since the Illini, unbelievably, haven't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2013 when they were a seven-seed. They haven't been a one-seed since 2005.

Illinois is just 3-6 SU in the NCAA Tournament since its loss in the 2005 national title game to North Carolina. The UNDER is 18-7-1 in the past 26 NCAA Tournament games, and 10-4 in the past 14 as a favorite. But again, those trends can be mostly ignored since they haven't been the Big Dance in nearly a decade but worth mentioning.

Seed: 1
Conference: Big Ten
Bid: Auto

  • SU: 23-6
  • ATS: 19-10
  • O/U: 16-12-1
  • Current Form (Last 5): 5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS, 2-3 O/U
  • Notable Wins: Duke, Purdue, Iowa (x2), Wisconsin (x2), Michigan, Ohio State (x2)
  • PS/G: 81.4 (15th)
  • PA/G: 69.2 (145th)
  • Off Rtg: 112.4 (19th)
  • Def Rtg: 95.6 (66th)

First Round Predictions

Friday's Late Action - Mar. 19
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Key Players to Watch

During the regular season, Drexel had four scorers with 10.1 PPG or more per game. It was Zach Walton, fourth on the team in scoring in the regular season, who posted 13.3 PPG in the CAA tournament to lead the team. Cameron Wynter was impressive all around, and he hits 40.6% from behind the three-point line, and 84.3% from the free-throw line. James Butler is their best big with 9.1 rebounds per game during the regular season.

Dosunmu is a National Player of the Year candidate, and he was good to go with 20.9 PPG in the regular season, while also contributing 6.2 RPG, 5.2 APG and 1.1 SPG in 23 games. He missed three games with a broken nose, allowing Kofi Cockburn to grab some spotlight. He ended up with 17.3 PPG and 9.6 RPG in his 26 games, but he is a terrible free-throw shooter at 54.9% from the charity stripe. He makes up for it at 1.3 BPG.

  • DREX - Cameron Wynter (16.8 PPG, 5.3 APG)
  • DREX - James Butler (12.9 PPG, 9.2 RPG)
  • ILL - Ayo Dosunmu (20.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 5.3 APG)
  • ILL - Kofi Cockburn (17.6 PPG, 9.6 RPG)

March Madness Records & Trends

Drexel Dragons

  • All-Time Record: 1-4
  • Last Appearance: 1996
  • Deepest Run: Second Round (1996)

-- Drexel has lost four of its last five NCAA Tournament games.
-- Drexel has lost its first game in three of its last four NCAA Tournament appearances.
-- Drexel has covered the spread in 12 of its last 16 games.
-- Drexel has covered the spread in four straight games when playing on a neutral court.
-- Drexel has covered the spread in four of its last five games when playing as the underdog.
-- Drexel has gone OVER the point total in three of its last four games.  

Illinois Fighting Illini

  • All-Time Record: 40-31
  • Last Appearance: 2013
  • Deepest Run: Final Runner-up (2005)

-- Illinois has failed to reach the Sweet 16 in five straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
-- Illinois has been eliminated by a school seeded No. 5 or lower in 11 of its last 12 NCAA Tournament appearances.
-- Illinois has lost five of its last seven NCAA Tournament games.
-- Illinois has failed to score 60 points or more in four of its last six NCAA Tournament games.
-- Illinois has covered the spread in six of its last seven games.

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