NCAA Tournament Betting: Illinois vs. UConn Picks, Prop Bets and Odds

Aidan Cotter
Aidan CotterAidanCotterFD
NCAA Tournament Betting: Illinois vs. UConn Picks, Prop Bets and Odds

Very few things on the sports calendar can match the excitement and unpredictability of the NCAA Tournament. So why not add betting to the mix via the college basketball odds at FanDuel Sportsbook?

The 2024 edition of the big dance has arrived, and here at FanDuel Research, we'll have you covered with a betting guide for each game.

All college basketball odds come from FanDuel Sportsbook, and lines may change after this article is published.

NCAA Tournament Betting Picks

Illinois vs. UConn Betting Odds

Date and Time: Saturday, March 30th at 6:09 p.m. ET

Spread: Connecticut -8.5 (-110)

Total: 154.5


  • Illinois: +300
  • Connecticut: -385

Illinois vs. UConn Statistical Breakdown

Advanced stats from KenPom, Bart Torvik and numberFire.


  • numberFire Ranking: 9th
  • Bart Torvik Ranking: 12th
  • KenPom Ranking: 10th
    • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 84th
    • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 2nd
    • Adjusted Tempo Ranking: 69th


  • numberFire Ranking: 3rd
  • Bart Torvik Ranking: 2nd
  • KenPom Ranking: 1st
    • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 6th
    • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 1st
    • Adjusted Tempo Ranking: 319th

Illinois vs. UConn Best Bet

Illinois +8.5 (-110)

Let me preface this pick with this: UConn is the best team in the country.

The defending champs are back in the top spot for KenPom's adjusted offensive efficiency, and they're sixth in adjusted defense. After walloping San Diego State by 30 in the Sweet 16, the Huskies have now won nine consecutive NCAA Tournament games by double digits.

There is nothing UConn doesn't do well. They're 4th in total rebound rate, 6th in assist rate, and 33rd in turnover rate. Their two projected NBA lottery picks -- Donovan Clingan and Stephon Castle -- rank fourth and fifth on the team in scoring. They have the size, skill, and talent to cover huge spreads against anyone in the country.

There's a reason UConn is the favorite to win the National Championship at +120.

Though worthy opponents (potentially) await them in the Final Four, Saturday's matchup with Illinois may be their toughest game yet. The Illini have the offensive firepower to hang with the Huskies and cover as 8.5-point underdogs.

Coming off an upset win over Iowa State's top-ranked defense, Illinois is clearly on a roll. The Big Ten tournament champs have the nation's second-longest active win streak and rank a close second in adjusted offense -- both only behind UConn.

That offense will be critical for their chances of keeping things close against UConn. The Huskies have given up more than 60 points just once in their last seven games. They've averaged 82.4 points per game over that stretch.

Illinois' defense is a question mark. They've yet to allow more than 70 points in the tournament, but they haven't exactly faced offensive juggernauts, either. We did see them hold Purdue -- third in adjusted offense -- to 83 and 77 points in two regular season meetings. They lost those two games by five and six points.

That's been a common theme for the Illini -- they don't get blown out. All eight of their losses have come by single digits, and only one came by nine points.

While UConn should come out ahead here, expect Illinois to give them a tough game and cover 8.5 in the process.

Illinois vs. UConn Prop Bet

Tristen Newton Over 16.5 Points (-108)

Although I like Illinois to keep it close, that isn't because of their defense. The Illini are 84th in adjusted defensive efficiency while UConn's team total is set at 81.5. The Huskies shouldn't have any issues lighting up the scoreboard.

As a result, we can dive into some of their points props. Coming off 17 and 20-point games, point guard Tristen Newton is well-positioned to go over his 16.5-point prop.

Newton is UConn's leading scorer this season, averaging 15.3 points per game. Though he's only scored 17-plus in just 13-of-37 games, Newton's been at his best against top completion. In 12 games against top-25 Bart Torvik teams, Newton's scoring jumps to 17.6 points per game.

He shouldn't face much trouble reaching 17 points against Illinois. In addition to their iffy defensive numbers, the Illini tend to play at a swift pace, ranking 69th in adjusted tempo and 56th in opponent average possession length.

It helps that Illinois has given up several high-scoring games to perimeter players of late. Dating back to the Big Ten tournament, the Illini have let nine different players exceed 17 points against them in six games.

With a team-leading 26.4% usage rate, Tristen Newton should be heavily involved in UConn's offensive attack against Illinois. The Illini don't present much of a threat on defense, so look for Newton to go over his 16.5-point prop in Saturday's Elite Eight matchup.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.