Boise State (20-11) at Illinois (19-14)
When: Monday, March 20th 2017
Where: State Farm Center, Champagne, IL
Time: 9:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The Boise State Broncos, coming off their first ever postseason road victory, will visit the Illinois Fighting Illini on Monday night in the second round of the NIT. Boise State, which finished third in the Mountain West Conference, rallied to defeat Utah 73-68 on Tuesday in the first round. Chandler Hutchison, a 6’7″ junior guard, showed why he was an All-Mountain West First Team pick as selected by the league’s coaches by scoring a career-high 34 points in the comeback win at Utah. Hutchison leads the team in scoring (17.4 points), rebounding (7.8) and steals (1.2) while shooting 38.5% from 3-point territory. Sophomore point guard Paris Austin (12.5 points) and senior guard James Reid (10) also are averaging double digits in points for the Broncos. Hutchison has recorded at least 20 points and 10 rebounds six times this season. The winner moves on to play the victor of the matchup between top seed Illinois State and fourth-seeded Central Florida in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Illinois will have their new coach on hand for Monday’s contest, but he won’t be on the sidelines as interim coach Jamall Walker will run the team throughout the NIT. Walker led the Fighting Illini – the No. 2 seed in Region 3 – to an 82-57 victory over Valparaiso on Tuesday. Brad Underwood, hired away from Oklahoma State on Saturday, will be on hand after holding his official introductory press conference earlier in the day. Underwood has made it clear he would like to retain Walker, a key recruiter for former coach John Groce who reportedly also was entertaining an offer to join new Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin’s staff. Guard Malcolm Hill scored 25 points, including 4-of-7 from long range, to guide the Fighting Illini in the blowout win over Valparaiso. The All-Big Ten Second Team pick leads the club in scoring (17 points) and assists (three) while becoming just the fourth player in school history to surpass the 1,800-point mark in his career. Sophomore forward Leron Black recorded a double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds) against Valpo while senior center Maverick Morgan, who ranks second on the team in scoring (10.1 points), added eight points and six rebounds.
Boise State is a team that shoots the ball well and has been pretty good as a road dog lately. Illinois will have some distractions as the team looks to impress the new head coach. This will be a tight game throughout with Illinois coming away with the victory, but Boise State will cover the 7.5.
Pick: Boise State +7.5
HEAD TO HEAD
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