The Buckeyes visit the Illini on Tuesday and while OSU won its last game, they’ve been struggling thus far. And Illinois was streaking until they ran into an Indiana buzzsaw last Thursday.
The Buckeyes lost five straight close games (Purdue, @Maryland, Minnesota, @Rutgers, @Nebraska) before taking the Iowa Hawkeyes 93-77 in Columbus on Saturday. Freshman forward Brice Sensabaugh has led them in scoring in 10 straight games, averaging 20.6 points per game over that stretch, but the Buckeyes won just four of them. He’s also double-doubled in points and rebounds in three of his last four games, while senior center Isaac Likekele flirted with a triple-double in Saturday’s win over Iowa with 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. But outside of Sensabaugh, Likekele and Zed Key, the Buckeyes struggle to find enough offense to win close games. Key has scored 10 or 11 points in four straight games and has two double-doubles in his last six games. He’s had at least eight rebounds in four straight.
The Illini rattled off four straight wins (Wisconsin, @Nebraska, Michigan State, @Minnesota) before losing 80-65 at home against the Hoosiers on Thursday. Senior guard Terrence Shannon Jr. has scored 24 or more points in three of his last five games and is also contributing in rebounds, assists, steals and 3-pointers. Matthew Mayer, Dain Dainja and Coleman Hawkins are all scoring around 10 points per game and all average between 4.6 and 6.0 rebounds. They’re also combining for 3.9 blocks per game between them, giving the Illini solid rim protection.
Illinois was hot before falling to Indiana and while the Buckeyes have been struggling, all five of their most recent losses have been by seven or fewer points. This should be a good game but we’re looking for OSU to lose another close one on the road. The four points are obviously going to be the key factor here and we’re guessing Ohio State will be able to hang with Illinois. We like the Buckeyes and the points tonight.
Pick: Ohio State +4
Prop 1: Brice Sensabaugh Over 19.5 points
Prop 2: Brice Sensabaugh Over 6.5 rebounds
Prop 3: Terrence Shannon Jr. Over 5.5 rebounds