The Houston Cougars and the Illinois Fighting Illini — the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds in the South Region — will face off in the Second Round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on Sunday. It’s a matchup between teams that sit inside the top 20 in the AP Poll as well as on KenPom. The winner will move on to the Sweet 16 to meet either No. 1 Arizona or No. 9 TCU.
All odds below are from DraftKings Sportsbook.
Game date: Sunday, March 20th
Game time: 12:10 p.m.
TV channel: CBS
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA.
Odds: Houston -4.5, Total 133.5
No. 4 Illinois Fighting Illini, 23-9 (15-5 Big Ten)
First Round: Defeated No. 13 Chattanooga Mocs, 54-53
KenPom rating: 17 Overall, 26 Offense, 26 Defense
Leading scorer: Kofi Cockburn (21.1)
Key stat of tournament: Illinois shot 17.6 percent from 3-point range against the Mocs (3-of-17). That ties its second-lowest percentage from beyond the arc this season.
The Fighting Illini trailed for all but 25 seconds of their First Round game, but a couple of late free throws from Alfonso Plummer and a crucial last-second block by Coleman Hawkins allowed them to survive against the Mocs. The team’s leading scorer, Kofi Cockburn, recorded 17 points and 12 rebounds. Although Illinois shot just 39.6 percent for the game, it held Chattanooga to 32.3 percent from the field.
No. 5 Houston Cougars 30-5 (15-3 AAC)
First Round: Defeated No. 12 UAB Blazers, 82-68
KenPom rating: 4 Overall, 10 Offense, 11 Defense
Leading scorer: Kyler Edwards (13.6)
Key stat of tournament: Houston entered the tourney giving up only 29 percent shooting from 3-point range, 12th-best in Division I. It improved upon that rate in the First Round; the Cougars smothered the Blazers on the perimeter, limiting them to just 5-for-19 from long range (26.3 percent).
The Cougars kept the Blazers at arm’s length throughout their First Round game and were very efficient on the offensive end. Houston piled up 19 assists on 32 field goals, shot 53.3 percent from the floor and committed only seven turnovers.