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Ohio State vs Illinois Odds and Picks

Chris Amberley

by Chris Amberley in College Basketball

Updated Jan 15, 2021 · 5:24 PM PST

Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu shoots during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
  • #14 Illinois is a 5.5-point home favorite over #21 Ohio State on Saturday (Jan. 16th, Noon EST)
  •  Fighting Illini guard Ayo Dosunmu is averaging 22.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game
  • See below for analysis, odds and a betting prediction

Saturday’s college hoops slate starts off with a bang as a pair of top-25 teams clash in Champaign, Illinois at Noon EST. #21 Ohio State (10-3, 4-3 Big Ten) faces #14 Illinois (9-4, 5-2 Big Ten), looking for its third straight victory.

The Fighting Illini meanwhile, are fresh off a 3-point loss to Maryland, which snapped a four-game conference winning streak.

#21 Ohio State vs #14 Illinois Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Ohio State Buckeyes +5.5 (-120) +190 Over 147.5 (-105)
Illinois Fighting Illini -5.5 (-102) -225 Under 147.5 (-115)

Odds taken Jan. 15th at FanDuel.

Illinois will look to rebound against the rival Buckeyes, and opened as 5.5-point favorites. They’re 1-2 versus ranked opposition this season, winning at #19 Duke, but falling to both #2 Baylor and at the time #15 Rutgers.

Dosunmu Leads the Way

The loss to the Terps was especially disappointing since the Illini were 10.5-point favorites and it came on their home court. Ayo Dosunmu led the way with 23 points, marking the eighth time this season he’s crossed the 20-point plateau.

The Junior guard is a top-10 player in the Nation according to industry experts, and will look to continue his impressive play against a very good Buckeyes defense. Ohio State ranks third in the Big Ten in points allowed and total rebounding, and have held enemy shooters to 41.6% from the field.

Dosunmu isn’t the only elite player on this roster however, as Sophomore center Kofi Cockburn is averaging a double-double (17.3 points, 10.1 rebounds) this season. The 7-footer has a major size advantage over this Ohio State squad, as no Buckeye rotational player stands taller than 6-foot-8.

Look for Illinois to exploit this advantage, like they did against a small Duke program last month.

Washington on a Roll

After an up and down start to the season, Ohio State guard Duane Washington has been on fire. He’s poured in at least 17 points in three straight outings, and is fresh off a career-high 23 against Northwestern.

He’s one of three Buckeyes who average in double-figures, but the team as a whole has struggled from the field in conference play. Ohio State ranks seventh in field goal percentage (44.1%) and 13th from beyond the arc (31%). The matchup versus Illinois is beatable, but very tough, as the Illini rank third in the Big Ten in defensive rating.

Also working against the Buckeyes is the loss of starting point guard CJ Walker. The Senior has missed the last two games due to torn ligaments in his hand, and is unlikely to suit up against Illinois.

Side with the Home Squad

With matchups against top-10 opponents Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan looming, this is a game the Fighting Illini need. Outside the loss to Maryland, they’ve been perfect at home, winning seven times while covering in five of those outings.

Their average margin of victory at home in those contests is 27.4 points, and while that number is skewed from lopsided wins over NC A&T and Chicago State, they’ve also blown out Big Ten foes Minnesota, Penn State and Northwestern.

A blowout versus Ohio State isn’t likely, but they do have enough advantages at both ends of the court to win and cover. They’re a better shooting team than the Buckeys, especially from long range, and Ohio State will be hard pressed to slow down the Dosunmu-Cockburn one-two punch.

Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini -5.5 (-102)

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