Ohio State’s center Zed Key (23) puts up a shot as Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili (15) defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Holly Hart)
- #4 Illinois (19-6, 15-4 Big Ten) battles #7 Ohio State (18-7, 12-7 Big Ten) on Saturday, March 6, at 4 pm ET
- The Fighting Illini are 10-1 since Jan. 19, while the Buckeyes have dropped three straight for the first time all season
- The odds for the game, as well as matchup analysis and a pick, can be found in the article below
In a matchup that could just as easily be repeated later this month in the Big Ten championship game, #4 Illinois visits #7 Ohio State on Saturday, March 6 at 4 pm ET.
The Buckeyes are reeling a bit, having lost three in a row for the first time all season. The Fighting Illini, meanwhile, have won 10 of 11 games since they fell to Ohio State back on Jan. 16. Here’s a look at the odds:
#4 Illinois vs #7 Ohio State Odds
|Illinois Fighting Illini||+2 (-110)||+116||Over 151 (-110)|
|Ohio State Buckeyes||-2 (-110)||-136||Under 151 (-110)|
Odds as of March 5th at FanDuel.
How They’ve Fared Recently
Illinois will hope to go three for three in tough road matchups to end this year, and wouldn’t that be a great way to solidify a 1-seed in the NCAA tournament?
The Illini toppled #25 Wisconsin last Saturday, 74-69, then followed up with a thoroughly dominant 76-53 battering of #2 Michigan on Tuesday. Illinois showed on the boards how much more they wanted to win, grabbing a plus-29 rebound advantage combined over those two games.
What’s amazing is that Illinois is playing some of its best basketball without stellar guard Ayo Dosunmu, who is averaging 21 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, but has been out since Feb. 25. Dosunmu is questionable for Saturday with a nose injury, and that’s certainly something to follow because he can elevate the Illini even higher.
😤 @_Trentfrazier1 led @IlliniMBB to a dominant win over Michigan without Ayo Dosunmu
Watch how it all went down 👇 pic.twitter.com/M7z8N1o2W8
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) March 3, 2021
Ohio State has had its share of impressive wins — including one against Illinois, which we’ll discuss shortly — but times have been tough of late. The Buckeyes have lost their past three games against Michigan, Michigan State and #5 Iowa. The most recent loss, to the Hawkeyes, came by 16 points.
The Buckeyes’ offense is indisputably great (fourth in NCAA Division I in adjusted offensive officiency). Their matchup with Illinois’s seventh-ranked adjusted defensive efficiency should make for great television.
2️⃣ got loose ‼️ pic.twitter.com/Ku0Gp3iwBl
— Ohio State Hoops (@OhioStateHoops) February 19, 2021
Illinois is 15-9-1 against the spread this season, with a 7-4 ATS road record. The Illini have covered in four of their past five games, two of which came in straight up wins as underdogs (those two wins came by a combined ATS margin of 41 points).
Ohio State is 14-10-1 ATS overall, but their ATS home record is a more pedestrian 7-6. They’ve failed to cover in their past three games, following a five-game ATS win streak.
.@AceWolf44 getting buckets 🔥#Illini | #EveryDayGuys pic.twitter.com/yz2Z5JclEL
— Illinois Basketball (@IlliniMBB) March 5, 2021
Both the Buckeyes and Illini have seen the over hit in 14 of 25 games (56%) this season.
2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Odds Tracker
In their prior meeting this year, the Buckeyes earned an 87-81 road victory over the Illini on Jan. 16. The final score is a bit misleading though — Ohio State held a 10-point lead inside the final three minutes and coasted to the finish line for a straight up win as 8-point favorites.
A lot has happened since then, though. Questions about Dosunmu remain — he had a team-high 22 points — but Illinois has looked truly excellent since this loss.
We understand Ohio State is talented, but they’re sliding right now. The value Illinois is getting as an underdog is too juicy to pass up. Taking the points is fine, but the money line is worth the bet.
Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini Moneyline (+116)
Jordan Horrobin is a sports journalist whose MLB, NHL, NFL and NCAA work has appeared in outlets such as The Athletic, MLB.com, the Detroit Free Press and more. He is currently based in Toronto, also working as a contributor for Forbes.com and a freelance editor for Sportsnet.