Illinois vs. UConn Final Score Prediction for NCAA Tournament Elite Eight

Mar 28, 2024; Boston, MA, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Cam Spencer (12) reacts after a basket
Mar 28, 2024; Boston, MA, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Cam Spencer (12) reacts after a basket / Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody can stop UConn, or so it seems. 

The defending National Champions have been on a tear all season in hopes of being the first repeat winner since 2006 and 2007 Florida, and the Huskies are three wins away from making good on it. However, in its way on Saturday in the Elite Eight in Illinois, which has the second-best offense in the country, behind only the aforementioned Huskies. 

With a ton of points likely going up on the board, let’s try our hand at a final score prediction! 

While it’s a long shot this prediction comes to fruition, this will give you an idea of how I see this game playing out from a side and total perspective. Below, you’ll find pertinent betting information as well as my final score prediction. 

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Illinois vs. UConn Odds, Spread and Total

Illinois vs. UConn Betting Preview 

From our betting preview of Saturday’s Elite Eight matchup:

I’m not stepping in front of the train on Saturday either. 

Instead, I’ll target the over. 

Iowa State shot 12-of-26 on layups in the Sweet 16 loss, a sign that the offense couldn’t take advantage of a still vulnerable Illinois defense, but UConn won’t have the same issue, the team is third in the country in field goal percentage at the rim, per Haslametrics. 

With UConn’s ability to move off the ball and create clean looks from the perimeter or easy finishes at the cup, the Illini defense that is bottom 10 in the country in turnover percentage will be undressed in short order. Further, do the Huskies have another gear?

The team is shooting 30% from beyond the arc in three NCAA Tournament games but has scored nearly 83 points per game. 

Meanwhile, Shannon and co. will push the pace and try to answer. The team’s positional size should give the team some ability to match UConn’s high-octane offense. The team’s ability to get to the rim and also continue to lean on big man Dain Dainja off the bench against Clingan may keep the offense intact for much of this game. 

Illinois vs. UConn Final Score Prediction

Illinois offense should be able to do some damage here, as noted above. Shannon is a blur in the open court and Danja will have a place on the floor with Clingan occupying the center spot. 

However, the team will struggle on the other end to cut off rim attempts for the elite Huskies' offensive scheme, and that’s how the team gets back to the Final Four. 

The Illini defense has fallen outside the top 80 in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency over the course of the last two months as the defense struggles to generate pressure whatsoever, the bottom 10 in turnover rate, which is the best way to push this UConn team on defense. 

I do lean towards the Huskies covering the modest spread, but not as confident to bet it. However, with late free throws potentially deciding this one, I’ll go with UConn pulling away and getting the cover in our final score prediction as the Huskies are due for some better three-point shooting after getting a handful of shots at the rim. This game will be competitive but expect the championship level from Danny Hurley’s bunch to show. 

Final Score Prediction: UConn 83, Illinois 74

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

Track Reed's bets here!