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Illinois Fighting Illini at Texas Longhorns Betting Preview

Top-25 teams will battle it out as part of the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday night as the No. 17 Illinois Fighting Illini (6-2) take on the No. 2 Texas Longhorns (6-0). This game will be played at Madison Square Garden, with tipoff scheduled for 7:00 pm ET.

Illinois suffered a loss in their last matchup, a 71-66 defeat at the hands of No. 13 Maryland. In the loss, Terrence Shannon Jr led the Illini with 19 points, while Coleman Hawkins added 16.

For Texas, they have won six straight to open the season, including a 72-67 win over No. 21 Creighton last Thursday. Marcus Carr led the Longhorns with 19 points, five rounds, and five assists. Tyrese Hunter added 15, while Timmy Allen and Dillon Mitchell combined for 21 points.

Texas opens as the favorite in this one. They are -217 to win, while the Illini’s moneyline sits at +150. The spread features Illinois at +3.5 (-110), and the over/under for total points is 140.5.

Illinois Trying To Break Through Versus Ranked Opponents

Illinois was able to defeat No. 19 UCLA earlier in the season, but their other two matchups against top-25 teams have not gone so well. Not only did they lose to No. 13 Maryland in their Big Ten opener, but they also lost to No. 3 Virginia a few weeks ago. Trying to get back to .500 against ranked opponents, they will have quite a test against Texas.

Leading the way for the Illini is Terrence Shannon Jr. The transfer from Texas Tech has averaged 19.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game this season. He has also shot 48.5% from the field and 38.9% from the three.

With Shannon leading the way, head coach Brad Underwood’s offense ranks 24th in the nation, averaging 80.9 points per game.

Other major contributors include Dain Dainja (11.1 points, 6.1 rebounds), Coleman Hawkins (10.1 points, six rebounds, four assists), Jayden Epps (9.9 points), and RJ Melendez (9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds).

Defensively, the Illini rank 27th in the nation, allowing opponents an average of 60.5 points per game.

Texas Continues To Shine Early In Season

Not only have the Longhorns won their first six games of the season, but two of them were against teams that ranked in the top 10 at the time of their matchup. The Longhorns beat Gonzaga (ranked No. 2 at the time) 93-74 and Creighton (ranked No. 7 at the time) 72-67. They will look to continue to shine early in the season as they take on the Illini in this one.

One of the biggest factors in Texas’ success early on has been their defense. Through six games, they rank sixth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 55.2 points per game to opponents.

On the offensive side, sophomore guard Tyrese Hunter has gotten off to a good start. In six games, he is averaging 16 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. He is also shooting 54.4% from the field, 92.3% from the free throw line, and 37% from the three.

Senior guard Marcus Carr is right there with him in terms of production. He is averaging 15.5 on 43.8% shooting while also averaging 2.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

Guard Sir’Jabari Rice is the only other player averaging double-digit figures, as he is putting up 10.3 points, four rebounds, and three assists per game.

Take Texas To Win And Cover

Looking at the trends, the Illini are 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games, but they are 0-5 against the spread in their last five against Big 12 opponents. From an over/under standpoint, the UNDER has hit in nine of the last 13 Illinois games.

For Texas, stemming back to last year, they are 4-8 against the spread in their last 12 games and 4-9 straight up in their last 13 against Big Ten opponents. Still, this is a very different Texas team than last year, so these trends should be taken with a grain of salt.

While Illinois is talented, this comes down to the tenacious defense of Texas. They will by far be the toughest team Illinois has faced, and especially on a neutral court, will likely be too much to handle for the Illini this early in the season.

Take Texas to both win and to cover the modest 3.5-point spread (-110).

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