No. 8 OSU tries to add to Illini woes on Tuesday
ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (16-11)
at OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (22-5)
Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Ohio State -16, Total: 128
Ice-cold Illinois is looking for its first win this month when it heads to Columbus on Tuesday to face No. 8 Ohio State.
The Illini are 0-5 (SU and ATS) in February and have lost eight of their past nine games overall (SU and ATS). The Buckeyes are also slumping, losing two of three SU and going 1-3 ATS in their past four games. When these teams met on Jan. 10 in Champaign, OSU had no answer for Brandon Paul whose 43 points propelled his team to a 79-74 victory. Although Illinois is struggling to win games, the team has lost by five points or less in five of its eight most recent defeats. And OSU hasn’t blown anybody out in February, winning its three games this month by just 6, 3 and 10 points. The pick here is ILLINOIS to win ATS.
This pair of three-star FoxSheets trends also expects the Illini to hang around in this game:
Play On - Underdogs of 10 or more points (ILLINOIS) - after being beaten by the spread by more than 18 points in their previous game, in February games. (43-13 over the last 5 seasons.) (76.8%, +28.7 units. Rating = 3*).
Play Against - Home favorites of 10 or more points (OHIO ST) - average 3PT shooting team (32-36.5%) against a poor 3PT shooting team (<=32%) after 15+ games, good ball handling team (<=14.5 TO's) against a poor pressure defensive team (<=14.5 TO's). (155-79 since 1997.) (66.2%, +68.1 units. Rating = 3*).
The Illini hit rock bottom on Saturday, losing 80-57 at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers went on a 36-4 run in that game which started in the first half and ended in the second half. Paul leads the team with 14.9 PPG, but had just two points on 1-of-7 shooting in Saturday’s loss. This broke a string of 15 straight double-figure scoring outputs, which included his 43 points (11-of-15 FG, 8-of-10 threes) versus Ohio State. The key to the Illini keeping this score close is C Meyers Leonard (12.9 PPG, 8.0 RPG). After averaging 19.0 PPG in the first two games this month, he has not been assertive on the offensive end, attempting a total of just 18 shots (10-of-18 FG) in his past three contests. His defense will also be vital in containing Buckeyes star PF Jared Sullinger. Junior guard D.J. Richardson also averages double-figures (12.1 PPG) and he led Illinois with 15 points in Saturday’s loss. This was quite an improvement from his zero points in 38 minutes versus Purdue on Wednesday.
OSU has been held to 49.5 PPG in its past two defeats, but Deshaun Thomas had no trouble scoring in Saturday’s 56-51 loss at Michigan. He pumped in 25 of his team’s 51 points and also grabbed 13 rebounds. Thomas also had a team-high 23 points (8-of-12 FG) in the loss to Illinois this season. Sullinger (17.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG) scored 21 points against the Illini on Jan. 10, but grabbed only five rebounds in 38 minutes of action. Speaking of minutes, Sullinger hasn’t gotten much rest this month, averaging nearly 37 minutes per game in five February contests. But if the Buckeyes are going to make a deep run in March, senior guard William Buford has to start playing well against quality schools. In six conference meetings with Top 25-ranked schools (Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan St. and Michigan), Buford is averaging just 8.8 PPG on 31% FG. But on the flip side, Buford has been torching non-ranked opponents (like Illinois is) recently with 15+ points (19.6 PPG) in each of his past five such games. This includes his 15 points (7-of-18 FG) in the loss in Champaign this year.