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How and what to watch for #5 Illinois vs. #2 Baylor in Jimmy V Classic

The Jimmy V Classic nightcap will feature two Top 5 teams on Wednesday night in Indianapolis.

Illinois Fighting Illini guard Trent Frazier and guard Da’Monte Williams celebrate during the second half against the Ohio Bobcats at the State Farm Center. Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The Jimmy V Classic includes a pair of teams that have realistic aspirations to be Final Four contenders this season when the No. 2 Baylor Bears and No. 5 Illinois Fighting Illini matchup Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Baylor went 26-4 overall in the 2019-20 coronavirus-shortened season and is 2-0 to start this year, including an impressive showing in an 86-52 home win over Washington on Sunday. Jared Butler led all scorers with 20 points for the Bears as their defense looked a lot better than it did in the season opener. The Bears might have their head coach Scott Drew back for this game after he tested positive for Covid-19 and missed Baylor’s wins over Washington and Louisiana.

Illinois was 21-10 overall last season Fighting Illini escaped with a 77-75 win over the Ohio Bobcats on Friday to improve to 3-0 early this season. Ayo Dosunmu scored 27 points to lead Illinois to the victory. Without doing a ton of research, I’m guessing Bobcats are not as dangerous as Bears, so Illinois better play better Wednesday night against Baylor to get this win.

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

You can watch Illinois vs. Baylor on Wednesday, December 2nd at 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPN, or you can stream it via the ESPN app with a cable or streaming service login.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: Illinois vs. Baylor (-5)
Point Total: 144.5
Money line: Illinois (+180) vs. Baylor (-225)

  • Illinois is 8-1 straight up in its last nine games, while Baylor is 4-3 straight up in its last seven games.
  • Baylor is 2-3 against the spread in its last five games, and Illinois is 2-4 against the spread in its last six.
  • Illinois overs are 5-1-1 in its last seven games, and overs cashed in five of Baylor’s last six games.

The Best Bet

Let’s go with Baylor here. The Bears did not look good defensively in game No. 1, allowing 82 points to Louisiana, but they fixed that quickly, allowing Washington to shoot just 36.5% from the floor. Baylor scored 86 and 112 points so far this season, so its offense is clicking as well as it can be. Illinois can be a very good squad, but should be a bit behind at this point in the season. The Bears are operating at an incredibly high level, and appears to have staying power among the top of college basketball.

Pick: Baylor -5

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