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How and what to watch for No. 21 Ohio State vs. No. 14 Illinois preview

Illinois looks to rebound from an uncharacteristic loss while OSU is trying to keep its Big Ten hopes alive.

Illinois Fighting Illini guard Ayo Dosunmu drives against Maryland Terrapins guard Darryl Morsell during the first half at the State Farm Center. Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday night the 9-4 No. 14 Illinois Fighting Illini welcome the resurgent No. 21 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-3) to the State Farm Center in this Big Ten battle.

The Illini have been dominating teams all season but had a bit of a slip up last time out against Big Ten basement dweller Maryland. Before the one-possession loss to the Terps, Illinois had been blowing out most of their opponents. Their offense has been outstanding, averaging more than 80 points per game and the defense is limiting opponents to just 67 points. They’re great at getting second-chance points as well thanks to sophomore seven-footer Kofi Cockburn, who averages 10 rebounds per game. They’re shooting lights-out as well, with a field goal percentage over 50%.

Ohio State has won three of their last four games, losing to then-No. 21 Minnesota shortly after 2021 began. The offense hasn’t been as potent as the Illini’s, but it’s still solid, getting 76 points per game on average, while its defense is just round even with Illinois, giving up 66 ppg. Ohio State isn’t as reliant on one player as the home team will be with Ayo Dosmnu. The Buckeyes are able to get double-digit scoring from multiple guys on the floor, so if one has an off night, somebody else can step in and pick up the slack.

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

You can watch No. 21 Ohio State vs. No. 14 Illinois on Saturday, January 16th at 12:00 p.m. ET on Fox, or you can watch via the Fox Sports Go app with a cable or streaming service login.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: Illinois -6.5
Point Total: 145.5
Money line: Ohio State (+230) vs. Illinois (-295)

The Best Bet

Dosmnu and Cockburn might be the best two players on the court, and when those are on the same team and playing well they tend to find a way to win. It’s a lot of points in Champaign, but we’ll take the Illini to cover in the Big Ten game of the day.

Pick: Illinois -6.5

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