Houston vs. Illinois Prediction: Should You Fear the Fighting Illini?

Houston vs. Illinois prediction and pick for the second round of the NCAA Tournament. March Madness continues today, and Matt McCuen is here kicking off the day with his pick for this second round matchup between the Cougars and Fighting Illini.
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Houston vs. Illinois Prediction: Should You Fear the Fighting Illini?

The Fighting Illini of Illinois will take on the Houston Cougars in a four versus five matchup on Sunday morning. The winner of this game will continue to dance to the Sweet 16. These are two high-level programs that play with a ton of pride each and every night. They had opposite first-round games as the Houston Cougars rolled past UAB winning in blowout fashion. The Illini were tested down to the final shot as they escaped to beat Chatanooga. Illinois did not play a clean game by any means, but this time of year, it is all about survive and advance.

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Houston vs. Illinois Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

  • Date: Sunday, March 20, 2022
  • Game Time: 12:10 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: CBS

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Houston vs. Illinois Line Movement

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The best player on the floor in this game comes in the form of big man Kofi Cockburn. Cockburn, who is a junior making way of Jamaica, is one of the best big men in all of the nation. Kofi enters play averaging twenty-one points per game which is good for eleventh in college basketball. He is also one of the best rebounders ripping down 10.7 rebounds per game, which is good for seventh in the nation. Illinois also has very good guard play in senior Alfonso Plummer and fellow senior Trent Frazier.

Houston has had a great year, but they have been missing their best player in guard Marcus Sasser. The guy who has really picked up the slack has been big man Fabian White Jr., who is having the best year of his college career. Kyler Edwards is the top scorer for Houston, and he will have to step up if the Cougars want to get to the Sweet 16. 

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The play I am turning to for this early game is going to be Illinois with the points. I think there is a very good chance they win this game outright, but I’ll be safe and take the points. Kofi is going to be a matchup nightmare for Houston, so I expect him to see a lot of double teams. This will open up shots for the Illinois guards, and they have multiple shooters who I trust in this game. This line is an overreaction to Illinois' first-round game against Chatanooga. They are far too talented to give this many points to. I love this Houston team, but they play at a fairly slow pace, so the odds of them blowing out Illinois here are slim. I think Illinois steps up and surprises a lot of people on Sunday morning! 

Houston Cougars vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Pick

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Matt McCuen is a native of Delco, PA. He has been working in the sports gambling industry and creating content for the last few years. He is an expert in numerous different sports, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and collegiate sports. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @DeadPresPicks.

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