#4 Illinois vs #7 Ohio State Road to March Madness

#4 Illinois vs #7 Ohio State Road to March Madness | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

 

It seems as if there are Top-10 matchups in the Big Ten at least a few times a week, and there’s another on Saturday as No. 4 Illinois visits No. 7 Ohio State in the regular-season finale for both. The Illini may be short favorites on the NCAAB odds depending on the status of star Ayo Dosunmu. Illinois is +1200 to win the national title and OSU +2500.

How to Bet Illinois at Ohio State NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

Last Meeting

On Jan. 16, Illinois was upset at home by Ohio State 87-81 when the Illini were ranked No. 14 and the Buckeyes 21st. It was a very physical game with numerous technical fouls called. E.J. Liddell scored 26 points to lead OSU, which was missing injured guards C.J. Walker and Jimmy Sotos. Ayo Dosunmu led Illinois with 22 points.

Why Bet on Illinois? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Illini (19-6) got their biggest road win in school history on Tuesday in terms of how high the opponent was ranked in shocking No. 2 Michigan 76-53 despite Illinois playing without All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Ayo Dosunmu, who missed his third straight game with facial injuries – reportedly a broken nose and concussion symptoms. Consider him questionable here, but Illinois will play it cautious and perhaps hold him out until the Big Ten Tournament or maybe even the NCAA Tournament.

Trent Frazier (22 points, four rebounds), Andre Curbelo (17 points, six rebounds) and Kofi Cockburn (12 points, seven rebounds) had big games vs. Michigan. At one point, the Illini were up a shocking 64-34. • Illinois beat a top-2 ranked team for the seventh time in program history and first on the road. It was the first top-2 win since Feb. 7, 2013 when the Illini defeated No. 1 Indiana on a Tyler Griffey layup at the buzzer.

Illinois is 15-4 in the Big Ten, tied for its most Big Ten wins in program history. The school record of 15 league victories was set in 1984 (15-3, co-champions) and equaled in 2005 (15-1, champions).

Dosunmu has been named a Naismith Trophy semifinalist. The junior guard is averaging 21.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists. He will be the NCAA player over the last 11 seasons to average at least 20 points, six rebounds and five assists and has joined Michigan State legend Magic Johnson as only two players in Big Ten history with multiple triple-doubles in league play.

Dosunmu is also a Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Finalist and is averaging the most assists, points and rebounds of any Cousy Award Finalist. Dosunmu has scored in double figures in 37 straight games, the longest active streak by a high-major conference player. He is ninth nationally in offensive rating (112.4), leads the Big Ten in assists (5.3 apg) and ranks 15th in the in rebounding (6.3 rpg).

Why Bet on Ohio State? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Buckeyes (18-7) are on a season-high three-game skid and last took the court last Sunday vs. No. 9 Iowa and were routed 73-57 at home. The Buckeyes trailed 44-31 with 19:25 remaining before reeling off seven straight points, including a 3-pointer from Justice Sueing, to pull to within 44-38 to force an Iowa timeout.

The run extended to 11-0, pulling the Buckeyes to within 44-42 with 16:49 left before Iowa All-American Luke Garza ended the Iowa drought. Junior Joe Wieskamp followed with a 3-pointer on the next possession and Iowa’s lead was back to nine with 13:55 to play. The Buckeyes closed to within four (51-47) one final time with 13:07 to play but Iowa pushed its lead to double figures 4 ½ minutes later.

E.J. Liddell had 15 points and Justice Sueing scored 10 for the Buckeyes, who not long ago were projected as a No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed but now won’t even likely have a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament.

Ohio State is 5-3 vs. teams ranked in the AP Top 25 with six of the last seven games on the road. The Buckeyes are led by Liddell’s 18.2 ppg. vs. ranked foes. Duane Washington Jr. contributes 17.0 ppg.

Even with that loss to Iowa, Ohio State has won six of the last eight games vs. Top 10 opponents dating back to the start of the 2019-20 season. Four of those wins have come away from Value City Arena.

Senior CJ Walker leads the nation in free-throw shooting at 95 percent. Ohio State ranks No. 2 nationally in free throws made with 415 and No. 6 in attempts.

Expert Prediction

  • Ohio State 75, Illinois 74
 
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