Two Big Ten rivals face off Thursday night as the Illini travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. Illinois leads the all time series 67-59, but the Buckeyes have won 8 of the last 10 matchups head to head including the last matchup in December.
Illinois is coming off a 99-94 win over Rutgers at home on Saturday. Last Saturday (2/2) they beat Nebraska 71-64 at home, and on Tuesday (2/5) they beat #9 Michigan State 79-74.
Ohio State is coming off a 55-52 win at Indiana on Sunday. Last Saturday (2/2) they beat Rutgers 76-62 at home and last Thursday (2/7) they beat Penn State 70-74.
On the season, Illinois is 10-14 ATS, 4-3 ATS on the road, and 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games. On the season, Ohio State is 10-13 ATS, 5-10 ATS at home, and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games.
BetOnline has Ohio State as 8.5 point favourites with an O/U total of 143.
Ohio State Buckeyes
(16-7 overall, 11-4 at home, 6-6 in conference)
Ohio State averages 72.4 PPG, 34.7 RPG, 14.3 APG, 5.7 SPG, 2.6 BPG, and 13.0 TPG. As a team they shoot 45.9% from the field, 72.4% from the free throw line, and 36.6% from 3. Defensively they hold teams to 64.8 PPG, 32.4 RPG, 40.9% shooting from the field, and 32.6% from 3 point range.
They are led by sophomore big man Kaleb Wesson, who averages 14.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG and 0.6 BPG while shooting 52.6% from the field, 72.5% from the free throw line, and 40.6% from 3 point range. C.J. Jackson chips in 12.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.6 APG and 1.2 SPG while shooting 42.7/80.3/40.0. Luther Muhammed has come on strong lately pushing his averages up to 10.1 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.1 SPG and 45.5% shooting from 3. Andre Wesson (8.9 PPG/4.3 RPG/1.5 APG), Kyle Young (7.0 PPG/4.7 RPG/72.7% from the field), Duane Washington (6.9 PPG/2.3 RPG/1.0 APG) and Keyshawn Woods (6.6 PPG/2.9 RPG/2.6 APG) fill out their rotation.
Illinois Fighting Illini
(9-15 overall, 1-6 on the road, 5-8 in conference)
Illinois averages 74.9 PPG, 33.0 RPG, 13.8 APG, 8.0 SPG, 2.4 BPG, and 13.4 TPG. As a team they shoot 43.5% from the field, 69.1% from the free throw line, and 34.5% from 3 point range. Defensively they hold opponents to 75.6 PPG, 36.7 RPG, 47% shooting from the field, and 34.2% shooting from 3 point range.
They are led by sophomore guard Trent Frazier who averages 14.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.7 APG and 1.6 SPG while shooting 41.7% from the field, 72.1% from the free throw line, and 41.2% from 3 point range. His backcourt partner is Ayo Dosunmu who averages 14.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.2 APG and 1.5 SPG while shooting 44.7/70.5/36.4. Big man Giorgi Bezhanishvili puts up 12.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and shoots 54.3% from the field. Aaron Jordan (8.3 PPG/4.8 RPG/1.0 SPG/39.1% from 3), Andres Feliz (7.4 PPG/2.1 APG/1.1 SPG), Kipper Nichols (6.8 PPG/3.2 RPG/1.4 APG) and Tevian Jones (3.9 PPG/1.5 RPG/0.6 SPG) are contributors as well.
This Illini team is a scrappy bunch. They are young and feisty, with their 3 leading scorers being a sophomore and 2 freshmen. They play aggressively on defense, flying all over and forcing 17 turnovers per game (9th in Division 1), which could be a problem for an Ohio State team that lacks high quality guard play. However, the Buckeyes have a decided advantage in the paint, with Kaleb & Andre Wesson capable of taking over games inside, while the Illini lack bonafide rim protectors.
Both big men (Kaleb Wesson & Giorgi Bezhanishvilli) are very foul prone, and neither have great depth down low behind them. Illinois is playing their best ball of the year, having won 3 straight games by an average of 5.7 PPG. Even in their losses this season, Illinois has been ultra competitive, mostly giving away games at the end with a lack of experience.
While their last 3 contests were at home, their confidence will be at an all time high going in to Columbus, and while they might not knock off the Buckeyes they should play them tough.
Final Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini (+9.5)