Florida Atlantic had a remarkable run to the Final Four last season making them a big name program for the time being. The #11 Owls (7-1) get the national stage once again on Tuesday night in the December 5th FAU vs Illinois betting matchup as part of the Jimmy V Classic.
The #20 Fighting Illini are hoping they don’t suffer a letdown after opening Big Ten play with a dominating 76-58 victory at Rutgers on Saturday as +1.5 underdogs. FAU features a potent offensive attack and Illinois has the best shooting defense in the country so this should be a good one. Oddsmakers have the Owls as -3.5 favorites.
Why FAU Has Value at -3.5
The Fighting Illini defense is impressive, but they also haven’t faced an offense that has the potential that the Owls do. Florida Atlantic is shooting 50.7% from the field this season (14th in the country) and ranks 7th in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom.
What makes the FAU offense so reliable is their depth. Vladislav Goldin leads the way with 15.4 ppg, not to mention is going to be a matchup nightmare for the Illini down low at 7’1 and 240 pounds. Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin both also chip in over 13 ppg.
The bright lights of Madison Square Garden are not going to intimidate the Owls in the December 5th FAU vs Illinois betting matchup. This is a Florida Atlantic squad used to the pressure from their Final Four run last season, Last year’s impressive tournament included wins over #4 seed Tennessee (62-55) and 3 seed Kansas State 79-76 both at MSG in New York.
Why Illinois Has Value at +3.5
Florida Atlantic is very familiar with Madison Square Garden, but so is Illinois after notching an 85-78 win over then #2 Texas in this event last season. Knowing the process of playing this mid-week tournament in New York City can only be an advantage for Brad Underwood’s club.
One thing about playing on the neutral site court is that defense usually travels better than offense. The Fighting Illini defense is for real, ranking 8th in KenPom in adjusted defensive efficiency but leading the country with opponents having a 37.8% effective field goal percentage. No other team in the nation has held opponents even below 40%.
FAU has some big scorers, but Illinois’ Terrence Shannon, Jr. is on one himself this season averaging 20.0 ppg. The Fighting Illini have put up 75+ points in four straight games, and getting Coleman Hawkins back from a knee injury on Saturday in the win over Rutgers can only help on the offensive end of the court.
Free December 5th FAU vs Illinois Betting Pick
This game is your classic offense vs defense matchup, and on a neutral court you’d usually take the defense. Illinois is stifling on that end of the court, but FAU has two things that neutralize a good defense – depth and size. FAU big man Goldin should be able to do whatever he wants in this game which will have the Fighting Illini playing from behind most of the game.
Free Pick: Florida Atlantic -3.5