Illinois vs. UConn: Predictions and odds for Saturday’s men’s March Madness game

The top-seeded and defending champions, UConn, continued their journey towards a back-to-back national championship after blowing out San Diego State in a Sweet 16 matchup Thursday night. As a result, the Huskies will now face Illinois on Saturday to determine which team will advance to the Final Four.

The UConn Huskies secured their spot in the Elite Eight after defeating San Diego State 82-52 on Thursday night. The Huskies have been dominating every round of the NCAA Tournament. UConn has shown no indication of letting off the gas, with a 39-point first-round victory over Stetson, a 17-point win over Northwestern in the second round, and a 30-point win over San Diego State to sweep a Sweet 16 win.

Underdogs Illinois advanced with an upset, defeating No. 2 seed Iowa State 72-68 in a the Sweet 16. Terrence Shannon Jr. led the Fighting Illini with 29 points on Thursday night, sending Illinois to their first Elite Eight appearance since 2005

Illinois vs. UConn predictions
Peoria Journal Star: UConn 82, Illinois 75
Wes Huett writes: “Illinois beat Iowa State in a contrast of styles, able to have its playmakers execute down the stretch. UConn will be a much larger task for the Illini, who must hope to keep it close enough to give players like Terrence Shannon a chance to be playmakers in big spots. But the Huskies are not the Cyclones, and we think they have enough to outrun the Illini.”

Winners and Whiners: Illinois +8.5
Paul Biagioli writes: “Illinois is 10th in KenPom, and they have the 2nd most efficient offense in the country. San Diego State was 64th in offensive efficiency, the Illini present a whole new challenge for the Huskies. Illinois has the size inside to hang with UConn, and taking the best perimeter scorer left in the Big Dance with 8.5 points is the right play.”

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