This year marks the 26th annual Jimmy V Classic hosted by ESPN Events to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Game two of the one-night doubleheader features the #5 Illinois Fighting Illini (3-0) up against the #2 Baylor Bears (2-0). Illinois is 3-0 all-time against Baylor, with the Illini winning 62-54 back in 2014 in Las Vegas, NV. Tip-off is scheduled for 10 p.m. EST inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. Baylor is a 5.5-point favorite in the marquee matchup.
What to Know – Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois is off to a 3-0 start the season and a top-5 ranking for the first time since 2005. The Fighting Illini are coming off a narrow 2-point victory at home over the Ohio Bobcats as a huge 15.5-point favorite.
Junior Ayo Dosunmu elected to return for his junior season and is off to a fantastic start. Dosunmu is averaging 25.7 points while shooting 55.8-percent from the field and 42.9% from beyond the arc. Additionally, the 6-7 guard is grabbing 7.7 rebounds and dishing 6.7 assists per game.
Freshman guard Adam Miller (18.0 ppg) and sophomore center Kofi Cockburn (15.0 ppg, 11.7 RPG) both scored in double-figures against the Bobcats. Senior guard D’Monte Williams added his first collegiate double-double with 11 points and ten rebounds.
The Illini haven’t had much success against top-ranked teams in the school’s history, with a 6-40 mark against teams ranked #1 or #2. Additionally, Illinois has never taken down a top-2 squad away from their home court.
What to Know – Baylor Bears
Baylor began the season with a pair of contests over the weekend inside the Vegas Bubble at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The Bears took care of business in the opener against Louisana-Lafayette (112-82) and Washington (86-52).
Associated Press Preseason All-American Jared Butler has paced the Bears offensively in the early going this season. The 6-3 guard is averaging a team-high 18.5 points per game, including a 20-point showing against the Huskies on Sunday.
Returning starter MaCio Teague (18.0 ppg) and the Bears’ sixth man Adam Flagler (14.5 ppg) have begun the season hot offensively. Teague was a 2nd Team All-Big 12 selection last season, while Flagler, a transfer from Presbyterian College, was the 2018-19 Big South Freshman of the Year.
The Bears welcomed back four All-Big 12 players from last season’s team that ended the shortened season with a 26-4 overall record. Head coach Scott Drew will be back on the bench for the first time this season after missing the two games in Vegas due to COVID-19.
The Pick is In
It is always hard to judge how good a team is going to be early on in the season with the small sample size to analyze. Both the teams are where they should be entering this heavyweight bout. Both teams return pieces from successful teams last season while welcoming in additional pieces that have already contributed early. This should be a fun and entertaining matchup that will come down to the final minutes.
The Pick: Illinois +5.5