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No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 13 Chattanooga preview for March Madness first-round matchup

The No. 4 Illinois and No. 13 Chattanooga face off in the first round of the 2022 NCAA tournament. We’ve got an initial preview of what and how to watch following Selection Sunday.

llinois Fighting Illini center Kofi Cockburn (21) and Illinois Fighting Illini guard Andre Curbelo (5) celebrate in the second half Indiana Hoosiers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Tournament begins on Tuesday, March 15th with the First Four, and then moves on to the first round on Thursday, March 17 and Friday, March 18. No. 4 seed Illinois will face No. 13 seed Chattanooga in the first round on Friday. Here’s an early look at what we can expect from the Fighting Illini and Mocs in this year’s March Madness Tournament.

Once the odds from DraftKings Sportsbook are made available for this game, we’ll add that information below. We’ll also add the game time and TV channel once it’s settled.

Game date: Friday, March 18
Game time: 6:50 p.m. ET
TV channel: TNT
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Odds: Illinois -7.5

No. 4 Illinois

The Illinois Fighting Illini will hope to bounce back from a tough 2021 NCAA Tournament loss to Loyola-Chicago with a deep run this time around. Ayo Dosunmu is gone but Kofi Cockburn and Andre Curbelo are still in the mix for a talented team who won a share of the Big Ten conference title. We’ll see if Brad Underwood’s group can get a more favorable pairing this year, even with an early loss in the conference tournament.

Record: 22-9, 15-5 Big Ten
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 23
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 31
Against The Spread: 13-18
Over Total: 17-14
Odds to win NCAA Championship: +4000

No. 13 Chattanooga

Chattanooga has already given us what may be the most memorable March moment of this college basketball season: They punched their ticket when guard David Jean-Baptiste hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from 40 feet away to top Furman 64-63 in overtime of the Southern Conference Tournament Final. The Mocs are back in the Big Dance for the first time since 2016 for the 12th appearance in program history. The team has been on an upward trajectory for the past couple of seasons under head coach Lamont Paris, culminating with this year’s 27-7 overall mark.

Sophomore guard Malachi Smith is a true bucket-getter. He averages 20.3 points per game and is shooting better than 50% from the floor and 40% from beyond the arc. Former Kansas big man Silvio De Sousa is contributing about 11 points and seven rebounds per game for the Mocs.

Record: 27-7, 14-4 SoCon
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 58
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 94
Against The Spread: 17-15
Over Total: 17-15
Odds to win NCAA Championship: +30000