Illinois Basketball Final Four Odds are Very Favorable

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The Illinois basketball enters the season nationally ranked #8 in the AP poll, making this is the most anticipated season for this program since 2005-06, or the third season of the Bruce Weber era. That team returned two starters from the previous season, the greatest in school history, which saw Illinois finish national runners-up and break all time record for single season wins.

This year’s Fighting Illini team returns four starters and two legitimate stars in Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. No wonder their Final Four odds are rather favorable and their national title odds are not long.

ayo-dosunmu

They are just outside the top five, being given the seventh most favorable national title odds at around 15/1 or (+1500). At that price point for the Illini, it’s not a bad bet at online casinos like here. The Illini Final Four odds are more favorable, as only seven teams  are backed better to reach the final weekend of March Madness. You’ll see Illinois basketball typically priced at about +300 or 3/1 in this regard. They are 29 point favorites today in the season opener, at home against North Carolina A&T. It’s part of a season opening event that harkens back to the Illini Classic, which ran up until the early ’90s.

The Illini will be massive favorites again tomorrow morning, against Chicago State, a school that’s fortunate to even have a program right now. That point spread should should be north of 40, reaching 50. CSU replaced Wright State at the last minute as the fourth team in the event.

chicago state logo

Then on Black Friday Ohio comes in and Illinois will be big favorites yet again. Of course, nothing is ever won or lost, achieved or missed, on paper. It’s time to put in work, get some “sweat equity,” as Illinois basketball head coach Brad Underwood likes to say. Can the program finally regain that swagger that’s been missing for so long?

We did our season preview, looking at the current Illinois basketball roster, over at this link. In order to live up to expectations this season, they will have to compete for the Big Ten title, and make it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament; at the very least. If not now, then when?

When it comes to the long drought of power five conference schools without doing something special, it goes like this. U of I is on the clock. No one has gone longer without an 8+ win football team or sweet 16 men’s basketball team. Wake Forest had that dubious distinction until recently, but they took care of business on the gridiron a couple of years ago, so now, Illinois is on the hook.

The onus falls on them, and ironically, it was football (2007 Rose Bowl season) who last got it done, because this is obviously very much a basketball school. Last year’s Illinois basketball team would have finally ended the March Madness drought (which dated back to 2013), had the pandemic not struck.

illini basketball

This year’s squad should hopefully end the sweet sixteen drought, which stretches all the way back to that magical season of 2005. It’s not just time; it’s long overdue.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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