Congratulations to everyone who had three lower-seeded teams advancing out of the Sweet 16 in the Thursday night games. Defending national champion Connecticut was the only chalk team to win, taking out San Diego State by 30 points, demonstrating why they are the favorites to be the first repeat national champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007.

North Carolina, Iowa State and Arizona are now on spring break, and four teams will join them Friday night after the second half of the Sweet 16 is played.

What we know for sure is that sixth-seeded Clemson and fourth-seeded Alabama are now starting a debate in the South about whether Clemson, South Carolina or Tuscaloosa, Alabama is a nicer college town.

We also know for sure that Storrs, Connecticut cannot compete with Champaign, Illinois when it comes to quality of life. But that is about the only thing that the Fighting Illini have going for them as they prepare for Saturday’s Elite Eight game, with the defending champion Huskies having moved to an 8.5-point favorite after that line opened at 7.5.

By the time the sun rises Saturday, we will know the results of Marquette-NC State, Gonzaga-Purdue, Duke-Houston and Creighton-Tennessee. Then we roll through our weekends looking at the brackets we all filled out a couple of weeks ago to see where we stand in the office pool standings.

Illinois vs. Connecticut, Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under – March Madness Betting Lines, Saturday, March 30, 2024.

Moneyline: Connecticut Huskies -350; Illinois Fighting Illini +290
Spread: Connecticut -8.5 (-105); Illinois +8.5 (-115)
Total: Over/Under 154.5 points 

Illinois vs UConn Injury Report:

Both teams emerged from Thursday night’s game without any injuries.

Illinois vs UConn Prediction and Pick

Connecticut closed as a 12-point favorite against San Diego State and ended up winning by 30, continuing a trend. In their Round of 32 game against Northwestern they closed as a 13.5-point favorite and won by 37. In their NCAA Tournament opener they closed as a 27.5-point favorite against Stetson and won by 39.

In the Big East tournament final against Marquette, they closed as a 9.5-point favorite and won by 16.

If you have bet on the Huskies to cover throughout the past couple of months, we congratulate you on the purchase of your new yacht. Connecticut has covered in 12 of 15 games since the calendar turned from January to February, and their 25-12-0 record against the spread is the best of the remaining teams in the tournament (Iowa State had been 25-10-1 before losing to Illinois on Thursday night).

Illinois plays an NBA style offense that could cause matchup problems for Connecticut’s guards. Fighting Illini guard Terrence Shannon Jr. had a game-high 29 points despite being limited to 22 minutes because of foul trouble, and how the referees call this game will go a long way toward determining whether it stays competitive. If UConn gets Shannon in foul trouble, it’s all over.

The Fighting Illini have gone 21-13-3 against the spread, covering their last five games and going over in four of them. Taking a longer view, they have gone over in 14 of 19, while UConn has gone over only once in the past eight games.

The over/under of 154.5 is the second-largest of the season for the Huskies, who pushed a 164-point over/under against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 9.

Tipoff is 6:09 p.m. EST, and the game at TD Garden in Boston will be televised by TBS.

Best March Madness Same Game Parlay Picks Today for Illinois vs UConn: 3-Leg Parlay Picks (+1000)

Look, we are extraordinarily impressed with the UConn Huskies, and have been all season. Coach Bobby Hurley always knows which buttons to push, and there is no arguing with the dominance they have shown throughout the Big East season and the NCAA Tournament. Betting against them would be like betting against Mike Tyson in his prime, and we do not see a Buster Douglas on the horizon at the current moment. We also like an odd points total for UConn because they have had one in five of six games.

SGP-Leg 1: Illinois under 66.5 points (+280)

SGP-Leg 2: Connecticut – 17.5 points (+330)

SGP-Leg 3: UConn odd team points (-120)

Odds are subject to change*

Putting those three wagers together produces a Same Game Parlay of +1000, meaning a $10 wager would pay $110. That’ll buy you a restaurant meal that will make a husky out of any member of the wagering public who chooses to make that meal a high-calorie meal. Good luck, and enjoy the weekend.

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