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No. 1 Illinois vs. No. 16 Drexel preview for NCAA Tournament first-round matchup

No. 1 Illinois and No. 16 Drexel face off in the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament. We’ve got an initial preview of what and how to watch following Selection Sunday.

Illinois Fighting Illini guard Ayo Dosunmu reacts to the crowd after his team defeats the Iowa Hawkeyes at Lucas Oil Stadium. Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Tournament begins on Thursday, March 18th with the First Four, and then moves on to the first round on Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16. No. 1 seed Illinois will face No. 16 seed Drexel in the first round. Game time has yet to be announced but we will update this article with that and game odds as soon as it comes available. For now, we’ve got a preliminary preview of the two teams to get you ready for March Madness!

Once the odds from DraftKings Sportsbook are made available for this game, we’ll add that information below. We’ll also add the game time and TV channel once it’s settled.

Game date: Friday, March 19
Game time: 1:15 p.m. ET
TV channel: CBS
Location: Farmers Coliseum, Indianapolis

Odds: Illinois -22
Over/Under: 145

No. 1 Illinois

The Illinois Fighting Illini have as good of a duo as you’ll find in college basketball with junior guard Ayo Dosunmu and sophomore big man Kofi Cockburn. Dosunmu is averaging 21.2 points per game, which ranks second in the Big Ten, with 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per contest. He also recorded a pair of triple doubles in February. As for Cockburn, he averages 17.6 points per game, fifth in the conference, and leads the Big Ten with 10.3 rebounds per game.

Illinois ranks inside the top 10 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency this season, so whoever matches up with the Illini in the NCAA Tournament will see a very balanced group. This is far and away Brad Underwood’s best team in his fourth season in Champaign, and they should be getting Final Four consideration.

Record: 22-6, 16-4 Big Ten
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 7
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 5
ATS: 18-9-1
Over Total: 15-12-1
Odds to win NCAA Championship: +800

No. 16 Drexel

The Drexel Dragons are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years after making a run in the CAA Tournament as the conference’s No. 6 seed. Drexel likes to slow the game down as they rank No. 340 in pace of play this season among 347 teams. The Dragons are much better in adjusted offensive efficiency than they are on the defensive end. They shoot 47.7% from the floor, which is the best mark in the Colonial this season. In addition, they’re No. 1 in the conference in free throw percentage (77.7%) and second in three-point shooting (37.2%).

Junior guard Camren Wynter plays a ton with 36.2 minutes per game, and he leads the team in scoring with 16.8 points on average, and his 5.3 assists per game rank second in the conference. Senior big man James Butler is nearly averaging a double-double with 12.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Those two will need to play an incredible game for the Dragons to pull off a first-round upset.

Record: 12-7, 4-5 CAA
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 96
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 247
ATS: 12-5-2
Over Total: 11-8
Odds to win NCAA Championship: N/A