Illinois tips off Big Ten/ACC Challenge as large betting favorite vs. Miami

Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu, Nov. 10, 2019
Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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Heading into the 2019 ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the 21st edition of the series, the ACC leads 12-5-3 and has not lost the Challenge since 2015. While the ACC has won 127 of the 225 games in the series, Illinois and Minnesota are favored Monday night to give the Big Ten an early lead this year.

Illinois tips off the Challenge as an 8.5-point home favorite against Miami (7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT, ESPN2), hoping to hand the Hurricanes another decisive loss against a quality opponent.

The Hurricanes (4-3 straight up, 3-4 against the spread) have lost consecutive regular-season games (to Florida and UConn, ranked No. 29 and 53 by KenPom, respectively) by 20-plus points for the first time in the under Jim Larranaga. Miami also lost at home to KenPom No. 2 Louisville, 87-74 to begin the season.

Lack of production inside has turned the Hurricanes into a one-dimensional team with Chris Lykes (12.9 ppg) and Kameron McGusty (13.3 ppg) taking the majority of shots, but help is on the way.

Graduate transfer Keith Stone (knee) makes his season debut Monday. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 6.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 17 games (13 starts) for Florida last season. But Stone is expected to be eased into minutes, giving Giorgi Bezhanishvili and Kofi Cockburn an athletic advantage inside for the Illini (6-1 SU, 3-3 ATS).

Ranking first nationally in offensive rebounding percentage and 16th in points scored inside the arc (60.2%), Illinois has an edge on a Miami team that hasn’t recorded 30 rebounds in any of its past three games and ranks 246th in opponents’ 2-point shooting percentage (51.6%). Averaging 15.3 points and 12 rebounds, Cockburn has helped the Illini become the third-highest scoring team in the nation (88.3 ppg). Monday’s total is 146.5.

But that scoring has come against a schedule ranked 298th, according to KenPom. Against its toughest opponents, Arizona and Hawaii, the Illini turned in their worst offensive efficiency games of the young season, averaging 67.5 points in a pair of non-covers. Turnovers have been a big issue for guard Ayo Dosunmu (3.3 tpg) and the fast-paced Illini. If their ball-handling doesn’t improve Monday night, it’s tough to see them covering 8.5 points.

Clemson at Minnesota betting

Tip-off: 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, ESPN2
Records: CLEM 5-2 SU, 6-1 ATS; MINN 3-4 SU, 4-3 ATS
Lines: Minnesota -3, 131
KenPom: Minnesota 67-64
Torvick: Minnesota 66-62

Quick analysis: Minnesota starting small forward Payton Willis (leg) is a game-time decision, and if he can’t go, the Gophers will be at a big disadvantage offensively. Willis, a 6-foot-4 junior, leads the team in Offensive Rating, per KenPom, and is their best 3-point shooter. A bounce-back effort from the Gophers beyond the arc is expected Monday night after they went 7-of-29 in a losing effort to 8-0 DePaul on Friday as 3.5-point home favorites.

Just over 40% of points scored against Clemson have been from deep, as the Tigers boast a strong inside presence but sub-par backcourt play. Big Ten rising star Daniel Oturu reduces Clemson’s strengths, however. The 6-foot-10 sophomore ranks 26th nationally in block percentage and 35th in defensive rebounding, an area Clemson struggles with offensively (247th in Off. Reb. %).

In its first true road game of the season, Clemson lacks the firepower to keep pace with the Gophers. Bettors should consider Minnesota if Willis is in the lineup.

Here’s what the rest of the week has in store for this annual clash of conferences.

2019 ACC/Big Ten Challenge schedule

All times ET

Tuesday, Dec. 3
Iowa at Syracuse 7 p.m.
Northwestern at Boston College 7 p.m.
Michigan at Louisville 9 p.m.
Florida State at Indiana 9 p.m.
Rutgers at Pitt 9 p.m.
Duke at Michigan State 9:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 4
Notre Dame at Maryland 7:15 p.m.
Virginia at Purdue 7:15 p.m.
Nebraska at Georgia Tech 7:15 p.m.
Wisconsin at N.C. State 9:15 p.m.
Wake Forest at Penn State 9:15 p.m.
Ohio State at North Carolina 9:30 p.m.

MORE: Illinois basketball poised to cash tickets in breakout season

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