Syracuse vs Illinois Odds, Picks and Predictions: Long Night Ahead for the Orange

Illinois is off to a hot start to the season while Syracuse has struggled to gain traction. Read more to see why the Fighting Illini should exploit the Orange from beyond the arc tonight in our Syracuse vs. Illinois betting picks.

Last Updated: Nov 29, 2022 1:50 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Terrence Shannon Jr. Illinois Fighting Illini NCAAB
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange will try to rebound from an upset loss to the Bryant Bulldogs when they face off against the No. 16 Illinois Fighting Illini in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night.

Illinois is off to a 5-1 start, which includes a big win over the UCLA Bruins. Syracuse has struggled to get much going so far this season and has a 3-3 record on the year. The Illini are deserving favorites over the Orange in this matchup, but they’ll need a big win to cover the spread.

We’ll take a look at whether they can get the job done in our college basketball picks and predictions for Syracuse vs. Illinois.

Syracuse vs Illinois best odds

Syracuse vs Illinois picks and predictions

Jim Boeheim has coached Syracuse men’s basketball since 1976, winning over 1,000 games in his storied career. Yet, he presided over a dubious first last season: the only losing record for the Orange in his long tenure.

While Syracuse has still managed to make two Sweet Sixteen appearances in the last five years, the school no longer feels like a national basketball powerhouse. Ever since self-imposing a postseason ban in the 2014-15 season over academic issues, Syracuse has lost at least 10 games in every season, has no conference titles, and has never been a real threat to go deep in the NCAA Tournament.

Those struggles continue in 2022. Syracuse has already dropped games to Bryant, the Colgate Raiders, and the St. John’s Red Storm. With all apologies to a capable St. John’s team, that’s hardly the class of college basketball.

The Orange haven’t even been able to depend on their top scorers as of late. Guard Joe Girard (15.7 ppg) is just 2-for-22 from the field over his last two games. Leading scorer Judah Mintz (16.2 ppg) missed most of the Bryant game after the freshman was ejected for taking part in a first-half scuffle.

In other words, this is far from a vintage Syracuse team. That spells trouble for the Orange, who will need to play beyond themselves to keep up with Illinois on Tuesday.

The Illini have blown out the mid-major schools they’re supposed to beat and took down UCLA by nine points at home earlier this year. Even their one loss was far from concerning, as the No. 3 Virginia Cavaliers beat Illinois by nine in a game the Illini led at the half.

Senior Terrence Shannon Jr. leads Illinois with 20.3 points and 3.8 assists per game to key the offense. However, the Illini have also gotten excellent performances out of freshman guards Jayden Epps (11 ppg) and Skyy Clark (9.5 ppg), both of whom are adding depth to a talented, experienced backcourt. Syracuse will struggle to slow down this Illini offense. Illinois is averaging 84.7 points a night, while Syracuse ranks outside of the Top 200 in the country in total defense, allowing 70 points per game.

The Orange have particular trouble this year in defending the 3-point line. While previous Syracuse teams have been long enough and active enough to overcome this perceived disadvantage of running the 2-3 zone, this year’s squad is allowing opposing teams to shoot 36.3% from deep, while Illinois is hitting 37.7% of its threes. That’s a recipe for a long night for the Orange.

Illinois should not only win this game, but it should be able to do so going away, especially at home. Even with a fairly big spread, I’m on the Illini to win this one in a blowout.

My best bet: Illinois -12 (-115 at DraftKings)

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Syracuse vs Illinois spread analysis

Most books opened Illinois as a 10.5-point favorite in tonight’s matchup. The line has steadily moved further in favor of the Illini, with the main line being Illinois -12.5 at most sites at noon on Tuesday.

Syracuse is just 2-4 against the spread so far this year, while Illinois is 4-2 ATS, including a 3-1 ATS record at home.

Interestingly, the Orange have yet to play a true road game this year. Syracuse played a neutral site game against St. John’s at the Barclays Center, but this will be the first time the team heads on the road. I wouldn’t put too much stock into that, but it may be a slight point in Illinois’ favor as the Orange — and particularly their freshmen — get their first taste of playing in front of a hostile crowd this season.

Syracuse could once again be without forward Benny Williams, who missed the game against Bryant with a stomach illness. He is once again listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game.

I’ve already broken down my feelings on this matchup in the best bet section above. It’s hard to see Syracuse competing in this game, let alone being in any sort of position to win. Not only does this matchup look juicy for the Illini offense, but Illinois is also a solid defensive team, limiting opponents to 61.5 points per game and 37.9% shooting from the field.

That will cause even more issues for a Syracuse team struggling to shoot the ball and generate offense at the moment. Take Illinois and lay the points.

Syracuse vs Illinois Over/Under analysis

The total on tonight’s game opened at 145 points. There hasn’t been much movement, with the Over/Under now settling around 144.5 at most books.

Illinois has scored 80 or more points in five of its first six games and scored 79 against UCLA. The only team that has had real success in slowing down the Illini is Virginia, which held them to a season-low of 61. However, the Cavaliers are not only tough on defense but also play at one of the slowest paces of any team in the country.

In general, Illinois likes to play fast, averaging 77 possessions per game. In addition, the Illini shoot well from behind the arc, an area that Syracuse has struggled to defend this year. That combination should allow Illinois to score well over their average on the season and potentially run up the score.

Syracuse should add its fair share of points to the final total. The Orange average 74.8 points per game and play at an above-average pace themselves, which should keep the game moving.

This could well be a shootout, and I’m happy to take the Over. Yes, the number is pretty high, but it isn’t unreasonable, and these look like two teams that should combine for a high-scoring game. Even if Illinois wins in a blowout, it could easily put up 90 points on its own, which should be enough easily cover the total. 

Syracuse vs Illinois betting trend to know

Syracuse is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games against teams with winning records. Find more College basketball betting trends for Virginia vs. Michigan.

Syracuse vs Illinois game info

Location: State Farm Center, Champaign, IL
Date: Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. ET

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