Two teams with high aspirations this season meet in Las Vegas in hopes of passing their first test of the season.
Illinois dipped into the transfer portal to bolster their roster this season while Mick Cronin banked on continuity at UCLA with the return of Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez. Each team has blown out inferior competition but this will be a measuring stick game for them early in the year. How will it go?
Let's check out the odds and find out:
UCLA vs. Illinois Odds, Spread and Total
UCLA vs. Illinois Prediction and Pick
There aren't a ton of data points to go off of for both teams here, but I think that there is an undefined ceiling on the Illini and they will look like the hindsight favorite here.
Illinois hasn't been challenged this year, but the new pieces give them some necessary perimeter defending in Big 12 imports Terrance Shannon (Texas Tech) and Matthew Mayer (Baylor), which will be massive against Jaylen Clark and Jaime Jacquez.
This will be a battle of contrasting styles as Illinois likes to push the pace, and the team has the three-point prowess to outduel the Bruins, who like to run a methodical offense around point guard Tyger Campbell.
Ultimately, I believe that the Illinois wing defense will shut down the Bruins ability to get inside and that the Illini interior defense can alter shots at the rim with 6'10" Coleman Hawkins and another Baylor Transfer Dain Dainja, who has impressed in early action.
UCLA is a known commodity, and I'm not that bullish about this retread roster with a simplistic offense. I'll buy early on Illinois on a team that I believe is the best team in the Big Ten.
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Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.