Dane Miller’s UCLA vs Illinois Men’s Basketball Preview

The game presents a special opportunity for the Bruins to boost their NCAA Tournament resume

Posted on November 18, 2022

  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

In one of the first marquee matchups of the Pac-12’s nonconference season, No. 8 UCLA squares off with No. 19 Illinois in the first round of the Continental Tire Main Event in Las Vegas.

The game presents a special opportunity for the Bruins to boost their NCAA Tournament resume and the Conference’s reputation along with it.

The league has been up and down through the early part of the season and could use a noteworthy victory.

I preview the matchup below and my pick and that of Stephen Vilardo appear at the bottom.

No. 8 UCLA vs. No. 19 Illinois

Friday, November 18
6:30 pm PT, ESPNU

The Pac-12 has owned the Big 10 in basketball over the last several seasons. On Friday night, No. 8 UCLA has another opportunity to prove the Conference’s superiority.

The Illini haven’t been tested through three games, winning by an average margin of 35.3 points. With a relatively deep rotation, Illinois is a strong rebounding team that blocks shots at an elite level.

Picked to finish second in the Big 10, the Illini willingly share the ball and are one of the top shooting teams in the nation after three games.

Bruin freshman Dylan Andrews | Scott Chandler/UCLA Athletics

Guard Terrence Shannon Jr. leads the way with an average of 22.7 points per game. Four players average in double-digits, and 6-foot-9 forward Dain Dainja is a force to be reckoned with.

The Bruins will need to contain the Illinois guards on the perimeter and focus on securing defensive rebounds. Extra possessions could change the game, requiring UCLA to play physical on the defensive glass.

Forcing turnovers will be a high priority, too. The Illini are sloppy with the ball and Mick Cronin promises to take advantage.

At the end of the day, if the Bruins shoot 40 percent or higher from three they should pull away down the stretch. But if UCLA’s outside shots aren’t falling, the Big 10 opponent has enough firepower to pull off the upset.

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