The penultimate weekend of the college basketball regular season closes out with the Ohio State Buckeyes (11-17, 3-14 Big Ten) hosting the Illinois Fighting Illini (19-9, 10-7 Big Ten) in a Big Ten Conference battle. The two teams met in Champaign at the end of January, with the Illini handing the Buckeyes a 69-60 loss.
Sunday’s conference tilt tips off at noon EST inside Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Illinois is a three-point favorite, and the over/under total is 146 points.
What to Know – Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois rides a two-game winning streak into Sunday’s bout that included a massive comeback earlier this week at home over Northwestern. The Fighting Illini mustered up just 19 points in the first half against the Wildcats but turned it on after halftime to pull away with a 66-62 victory.
U of I is in a four-way tie for third place in the conference standings with three games remaining. KenPom ranks the Illini as the 27th-best team in the country, while the NCAA NET has Illinois ranked 32nd.
In the Big Ten, the Fighting Illini have the third-best scoring offense averaging 74.7 points per game, hitting 45.5% of their shots from the floor and 31.4% from deep. On defense, Illinois is sixth in the conference surrendering 65.3 ppg, 40.6% shooting from the field, and 33.5% from the 3-point line.
The Fighting Illini are 17-11 against the spread this season and 5-3 ATS in true road contests. Illinois is 2-4 ATS over its last six games against the OSU Buckeyes.
What to Know – Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes are in the tank and struggling down the stretch, reeling from nine consecutive losses heading into the season’s final week. OSU hasn’t won since knocking off Iowa over a month ago
Ohio State is second-to-last in the Big Ten standings, two games ahead of the cellar-dwelling Minnesota Golden Gophers. In the KenPom, the Buckeyes are 70th and 71st in the NCAA NET.
Offensively, the Buckeyes are sixth in the league in scoring, pouring in 73.0 ppg while connecting on 45.8% of their attempts from the floor and 35.8% from three. On defense, OSU is 12th in the conference allowing 69.4 ppg, 43.0% shooting from the field, and 32.3% from beyond the arc.
OSU owns an 8-20 record ATS this year with a 5-9 record ATS on their home floor. The Buckeyes have failed to cover the spread in nine-straight contests.
The Pick is In
Thursday’s comeback victory over the Wildcats might have been the spark the Illini needed as they head into the final games of the regular season and tournament play.
The nine-straight losses are a sign some of the Buckeye players might have thrown in the towel for this season, so don’t expect OSU to come out with much inspiration.
Illinois builds an early lead and wins this one by double-digits.
The Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini -3