We'll see where these two teams end up in March, but for right now, in early December, this is a marquee matchup between two of the best teams in the nation. We've got No. 2 ranked Baylor hosting No. 8 ranked Illinois on Wednesday in the Jimmy V. Classic in Indianapolis. These two programs haven't met since 2014 when Baylor won 62-54 and covered. Both teams are undefeated, but only one will stay that way.
Dosunmu leads IllinoisAfter two easy wins, the Fighting Illini got severely tested last Friday by Ohio University, holding on for a 77-75 win. It was quite a wake up call after they won their first two games by an average of 60 points -- yes, 60 points -- over powerhouses like North Carolina A&T and Chicago State. But Ohio was not supposed to come this close as they were 9.5 point underdogs. So Illinois comes into this game with a record of 3-0 and a No. 8 ranking nationally.
Illinois is one of the favorites to win the Big Ten, led by its two star players Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. Dosunmu was named to the Big Ten all preseason team. The guard has been off to a great start, averaging 25 points per game through the first three games. Against Ohio he led the way with 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 8n assists. He is truly one of the best players in the nation. Cockburn had 13 points and was a beast on the boards with 14 rebounds. The inside-outside combination will be hard to beat.
Baylor is stackedThe Baylor Bears are loaded this year. They have pretty much everyone back from last year's team that was 26-4 last year and 15-3 in the Big 12, good for second place. They are legit contenders to get to the Final Four this year. They are off to a 2-0 start so far this season. They beat up on Louisiana in their opener 112-82 and then followed that up with an impressive 86-52 2in over Washington on Saturday. The Bears shot 50% from the floor and 45% from three, draining 13 three-pointers. They out rebounded Washington 49-15.
Jared Butler, their preseason first team all-Big 12 selection, led the way with 20 points, 5 assists and 3 steals. MaCio Teague added 15 points and 6 rebounds while Mark Vital had 8 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots. Adam Flagler added 17 points off the bench in the blowout win. The Bears can do it all. They can score inside, shoot the three, rebound, and they play great defense. One of the most complete teams in the country.
Stats & Trends
- Fighting Illini are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 neutral site games.
- Bears are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 neutral site games.
- Bears are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
Take Baylor here to cover. The Bears are one of the most complete teams in the country. They can beat you in a variety of ways, whether that's with their defense, their ability to shoot threes, or they can pound you inside. Plus, they have a handful of scorers they can rely on to take over a game if need be. Illinois has a great player in Dosunmu, but beyond that, I'm not convinced they have the type of firepower elsewhere to take control should Dosunmu get shut down or have an off night. Plus, Illinois is coming off a shaky performance against Ohio, barely surviving. If they play like that against Baylor, it will be a long night for the Fighting Illini.