Texas basketball vs. Illinois: 3 bold predictions for Jimmy V. Classic

Terrence Shannon Jr., Texas basketball Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Terrence Shannon Jr., Texas basketball Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Christian Bishop, Texas basketball
Christian Bishop, Texas basketball /

Texas doubles up the spread in a big win over Illinois

As it did in certain ways against Creighton and Gonzaga, Texas matches up well on paper with Illinois. Texas is a better team defensively, as it is holding its opponents to just over 55 points per game this season, good for ninth in the country.

And Texas’ defensive rating so far this season is even more impressive, ranking fifth in the country at 77.2.

Considering how Illinois has struggled against some of the more stout defensive teams it has faced this season, the tenacity that Beard and the Longhorns bring to the table on this end of the floor should be an x-factor.

Illinois is 0-2 this season against teams ranked in the top 40 in the country in points allowed per game. Those two losses came at the hands of the No. 16 Virginia Cavaliers (allowing 59 points per game, 23rd in the country) and Maryland (allowing 61 points per game, 36th in the country).

Since neither Virginia nor Maryland has the defensive chops that the Longhorns bring to the table, this looks to be a really tall task for Illinois’ starting unit.

On the offensive end, as long as the likes of Hunter, senior guard Marcus Carr, senior big man Dylan Disu, freshman forward Dillon Mitchell, etc., keep performing at a good level, this should be a very winnable game in the Jimmy V. Classic on Dec. 6.

The spread for this game currently favors Texas by four points (per FanDuel). And the ESPN Basketball Power Index gives Texas a 64.9 percent chance of beating Illinois.

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I actually believe that the spread and ESPN BPI aren’t giving Texas enough credit ahead of tip-off for this game. Texas matches up very well with Illinois. And as long as this team can play well at a neutral site, I’d imagine something close to a double-digit win could take place at MSG.