Illinois vs. Morehead State odds, prediction, betting trends for 2024 March Madness first-round matchup

The Fighting Illini come into the NCAA Tournament playing their best basketball of the season and have won seven of their last eight, including the Big Ten Tournament. Morehead State has been playing some pretty good basketball in its own right, and they are riding a six-game winning streak that includes winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.

The Eagles are 19-11 against the spread this season, ranking top 20 in the country covering 63.3% of their games. Illinois is a pretty solid spread bet themselves, with an 18-13-3 ATS record. Terrence Shannon Jr., the top player for Illinois, missed six games this season with legal issues but is back now and at full strength, trying to lead the Fighting Illini to their first Final Four since 2005 and potentially their first-ever national championship.

Here’s everything you need to know about betting on Illinois vs. Morehead State in the 2024 NCAA Tournament, including updated odds, trends and our prediction for this first-round game on Thursday at 3:10 p.m. on truTV.

Illinois vs. Morehead State odds

Here are the latest college basketball betting odds for Illinois vs. Morehead State from the best online sports betting sites in the U.S.

The Fighting Illini are a double-digit favorite over the Eagles at most online sportsbooks. If you think Morehead State could pull an upset, there is a lot of value in the moneyline, and the point total in the high 140s suggests a high-scoring game.

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Three betting trends to watch

  • Illinois has won four in a row and seven of their last eight, covering the spread in three of four and five of eight.
  • During their six-game winning streak, Morehead State has covered the spread in four of six.
  • The Fighting Illini and Eagles have combined to hit the OVER for total points in five of their last six games.

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Illinois Fighting Illini key players

  • Terrence Shannon Jr., the country’s third-leading scorer, averages 23.0 PPG and can score on anyone from anywhere on the court. During the Big Ten Tournament, the senior wing scored 28, 40 and 34 points, averaging 34 PPG. If he continues at that pace, Illinois won’t only beat and cover the spread against Morehead State but could also be a national championship contender.
  • Marcus Domask has developed from a fringe all-conference player to a conference player of the year type guy in the second half of the season. When Shannon Jr. missed time, Domask turned it on didn’t stop even once Shannon Jr. returned. From his first game without Shannor Jr. to this point of the season, Domask is averaging 18.1 PPG.
  • Coleman Hawkins, the third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder with 12.4 PPG and 6.2 RPG, plays an important role for the Fighting Illini. He makes 37% of his threes, and with his size at 6-foot-10, playing anywhere between the three and five for Illinois makes the Illini very versatile and tough to match up with.

Morehead State Eagles key players

  • Riley Minix, the leading scorer for Morehead State (20.8 PPG), is maybe the most efficient scoring guard in the country. Ranking in the top 25 in the country for scoring, Minix has the best field goal percentage (54.6%) of any guard ranked in the top 100 in college hoops scoring. He also leads the Eagles in rebounding with 9.8 per game and is very consistent. The senior has scored 20-plus points in 12 of his last 13 games.
  • Jordan Lathon is a good partner in the backcourt with Minix, averaging 15.4 PPG, and is a strong three-point shooter making 38% of his attempts beyond the arc. Lathon also contributes a lot on the glass and is second on the team with 6.0 rebounds per game.
  • Drew Thelwell plays an important role at point guard, and while he only averages 10.0 PPG, he leads the team with 6.3 APG. 

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Best individual matchup: Riley Minix vs. Terrence Shannon Jr.

It is not often that you get to see two of the top-25 scorers in the country go head-to-head. The big difference in the game: Minix has to win the head-to-head scoring battle for the Eagles to have any chance to win. For Illinois, if Shannon Jr. scores more, the Fighting Illini win easily, but even if he doesn’t, they still have enough scoring depth to get the job done.

Illinois vs. Morehead State stat to know

Illinois goes eight deep with players averaging at least 5.0 PPG, while Morehead State has just six. The Eagles can go shot for shot among their top two or three players, but the quality depth for Illinois will be hard for Morehead State to match.

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Illinois vs. Morehead State prediction: Fighting Illini run away in the second half

Morehead State is a good basketball team, and if they were playing a different 3-seed, say maybe Baylor or Creighton, there would be potential for an upset. Playing Illinois coming off a Big Ten Tournament title and peaking at the right time will likely be too much for the Eagles to keep it close.

Prediction: Illinois 85, Morehead State 70. Illinois (-11.5) covers the spread, with the game going OVER the total (147.5).


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