The Ohio State Buckeyes finally stopped the bleeding this weekend, ending a five-game losing streak by beating Iowa pretty comfortably. Their attention now turns to Illinois, which is 6-4 in its last 10 games.
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Ohio State Buckeyes (11-8) vs Illinois (13-6)
- Location: State Farm Center, Illinois
- Time: Tuesday, January 24, 8 pm ET
- Channel: ESPN
Spread: Ohio State +4 | Illinois -4
Moneyline: Ohio State +155 | Illinois -180
Total: O/U 146
If Ohio State was ever going to get back to winning ways, it was always going to fall on its most talented player, Brice Sensabaugh, to set the tone and do the heavy lifting. That’s exactly what happened against Iowa, as the forward poured in a career-high 27 points, going 10-12 from the floor. He’s now set a new Buckeye record for most consecutive games leading his team in scoring (10).
It remains to be seen whether or not the demons have been slayed. The Buckeyes started B1G play with a five-game losing streak despite entering the new year with a 9-3 record. Illinois will soon reveal whether or not Ohio State is a contender or a pretender.
Illinois hasn’t exactly been the most consistent team this season, but they’re scoring an average of 7 PPG more at home than they are on the road. That will play into their favor here, especially if we assume that Zed Key will be out for the Buckeyes, leaving their frontcourt especially vulnerable.
Both teams have struggled from the free-throw line in recent weeks. They rank 7th and 8th in their conference respectively in this metric. Both teams can get hot from the floor quickly, but an inability to capitalize on Charity stripe opportunities may haunt both teams here, lending itself to a play on the under.
Prediction: Buckeyes 72 – 76 Illinois
Players to watch
Dain Dainja | Illinois
If Illinois really wants to exploit the loss of Zed Key, this is the main way to do it. Dainja is seeing extended minutes after some stellar work on the defensive end in recent weeks and he has 26 boards in his last 4 games, to go with 34 points and 7 blocks. The 6’9 forward may have been neutralized with Zed Key healthy, but he’s not, so that leaves a gaping hole for this dominant player to exploit.
Brice Sensabaugh | Ohio State
There’s only one man to highlight here and it’s Brice Sensabaugh. He continues to put together a remarkable career, shattering records, earning awards, and very much becoming the heart and soul of this Buckeyes team. With Key sidelined, Ohio State will be looking to its top scorer to carry the load.
For more NCAAB coverage, like this Ohio State and Illinois preview, visit AMNY.com