Illinois vs. Ohio State: NCAA Basketball Picks and Predictions

Illinois vs. Ohio State: NCAA Basketball Picks and PredictionsIllinois vs. Ohio State: NCAA Basketball Picks and PredictionsKofi Cockburn #21 of the Illinois Fighting Illini celebrates with teammates. Photo by Gregory Shamus / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Having already secured the No. 2 seed for the upcoming Big Ten Tournament, the Illinois Fighting Illini looks to add to the Buckeyes’ late-season woes with a trip to Ohio State on Saturday’s busy sports betting schedule.

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Saturday, March 06, 2021 – 4:00 P.M. ET at Value City Arena

By the time this one tips in the late-afternoon, the outcome might mean zilch as far as the conference tourney goes. Illinois was hoping to still have a shot at the Big Ten title with a win, but that notion was snuffed on Thursday night when Michigan downed Michigan State to wrap up regular season honors. Ohio State is currently fifth in the pecking order, and the Buckeyes need a loss by Purdue in an earlier game on Saturday, plus a win over the Fighting Illini to claim the No. 4 seed in the tourney and get a bye into the quarterfinals.

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‘Dogs Have Covered 6 of Last 8 Meetings

Even if everything is already decided, the matchup of top 10 teams should still draw plenty of interest for ESPN’s telecast. When the NCAA basketball odds were posted the Buckeyes were favored by two points and with the total coming at 150.

It has been about seven weeks since the teams collided in Champaign, where the Buckeyes came away with an 87-81 triumph. Ohio State broke a 15-all tie midway through the first half with a 15-0 run, and they led the rest of the way. The Fighting Illini made a strong attempt to rally but could never catch the Buckeyes, who scored their final 11 points at the charity stripe. Illinois was giving up 8 points in that one, and the final score made it past the total in a relatively easy fashion.

Ohio State picked up its second consecutive win in the rivalry, and fourth in the last five clashes. Illinois owns a 106-80 advantage in the series, but they have just one victory to show for its last 10 trips to Columbus. Last year’s lone matchup between the two programs took place at Value City Arena, the Buckeyes posting a 71-63 decision as 5½-point favorites, one of just two times in the last eight contests for chalk to cover.

Duane Washington Jr. #4 of the Ohio State Buckeyes with the ball. Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images/AFP

Illini Have Covered 3 of Last 4 Road Tilts

No word yet from Brad Underwood and Illinois, but logic suggests we won’t see Ayo Dosunmu on the floor Saturday for the Fighting Illini. The team’s leading scorer has missed the last three games with a broken nose suffered a couple of weeks back in a loss at Michigan State. With the outcome meaning nothing for the Fighting Illini’s seeding in the league tournament, we have to consider him doubtful. Dosunmu had 22 points and 5 assists in the loss to Ohio State earlier this season.

Illinois has won and covered all three games with Dosunmu on the bench, the last two of which came on the road as the underdog. Online sportsbooks were giving the Fighting Illini 8½ earlier this week at No. 2 Michigan, and they routed the Wolverines in a 76-53 upset. Illinois clamped down on defense and dominated on the glass to hand Michigan just its second loss of the campaign. Trent Frazier scored 22 for the second time in four games.

Buckeyes Looking to Snap 3-Game Skid

Ohio State was in a position to challenge for the conference crown and a potential No. 1 for March Madness just a couple of weeks ago, but that was before Chris Holtmann’s crew saw a 7-game win streak ruined by the current stretch of three setbacks. It’s tough to really pinpoint one specific problem or shortcoming, other than the fact the Buckeyes are closing with three top-10 opponents among their final four games.

The first two losses in the slide were close battles against Michigan and Michigan State that just didn’t go their way. But the Buckeyes were beaten pretty badly last Sunday at home by Iowa, a 73-57 final as 2-point favorites. Ohio State trailed by 14 at the break and came out strong to begin the second half, but they never could catch Luka Garza and the Hawkeyes. The Buckeyes committed 13 turnovers while forcing just five on the Iowa side.

There’s no question that the players are going to go at each other like this is for the National Championship. The question is which players will the coaches have on the floor, depending upon what’s at stake when the game tips. I’m going to play the total with my NCAAB picks because of that, and take the ‘under’ in this battle.

Free NCAAB Pick: Under 150 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

Under 150(-110)

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*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.


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