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Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Preview

It all comes down to this! After a grueling week of basketball, the Big Ten Championship will be decided Sunday when the Ohio State Buckeyes (21-8) take on the Illinois Fighting Illini (22-6). The game will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium, with tipoff scheduled for 3:30 pm ET.

This is actually a rematch of the regular-season finale, a game that Illinois won 73-68. In that game, Illinois was led by guards Ayo Dosunmu and Andre Curbelo, who had 19 points apiece. In the loss, E.J. Liddell also had 19 points.

For Ohio State, this will be their fourth game in as many days. As the number five seed, they were able to sneak by 13th seed Minnesota (79-75) on Thursday before upsetting 4th seeded Purdue (87-78) and top seed Michigan (68-67) in back-to-back nights. They are trying to finish the tournament with their third straight upset on Sunday.

For Illinois, they enjoyed a bye during the first round before making easy work of 7th seeded Rutgers, 90-68, on Friday. On Saturday, they took down 3rd seeded Iowa, 82-71, and will now look to once again take down the Buckeyes.

Illinois comes in as the favorite in this matchup. They are -235 to win while the Buckeyes’ moneyline is +194. The spread features Ohio State +5.5, and the over/under for total points is 151.

By The Numbers

Offensively, Illinois has been one of the best teams in the country. They rank 12th in scoring averaging 81 points per game. Ohio State ranks 37th, averaging 77.3 points.

Defensively, it is once again the Illini that hold the advantage. They rank 99th in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 68.5 points per game (63 over their last three). Ohio State ranks 159th allowing 70.4 points per game (75.3 over their last three).

Buckeyes Look For Revenge In Title Game

After dropping their regular-season finale to the Illini, the Buckeyes would love nothing more than to avenge that game when it matters most. This will actually be the third time these two have played, with Ohio State taking the first matchup, 87-81, back on January 16.

Leading the way for the Buckeyes are E.J. Liddell and Duane Washington Jr. For Liddell, the sophomore forward leads the team in scoring (16 points), rebounds (6.4), and blocks (1). He is also averaging 1.5 assists per game.

Not to be outdone, guard Duane Washington Jr. is averaging 15.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, and three assists per game. This combination can be lethal, as they combined for 42 points in their one-point victory over Michigan on Saturday.

Other contributors for the Buckeyes include Justice Sueing (10.5 points, 5.7 rebounds), CJ Walker (9.2 points, three rebounds, 4.4 assists), and Kyle Young (8.6 points, 5.5 rebounds).

Illini Hopes To Stay Hot

Illinois comes in as one of the hottest teams in the nation. They have won six in a row and thirteen of their last fourteen contests. That propelled them to third in the national ranking to end the regular season and a strong favorite in this contest.

Illinois has been led by guard Ayo Dosunmu and center Kofi Cockburn. On the season, Dosunmu is averaging 21 points on 49.9% shooting to go along with 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.2 steals.

Cockburn has been a force in the interior, averaging 17.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. These two combined for 44 points, 15 rebounds, and ten assists in their win over Iowa on Saturday.

Trent Frazier is the only other player that has averaged double digits for the Illini this season. He is averaging 10.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.4 steals.

Another name to watch for is guard Andre Curbelo. He has really come on as the regular season ended. In Saturday’s contest, he put up 12 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.

Like Illini To Win, But Can They Cover?

This one is a tough one to call. I really like the Illini as they have the top-end talent the depth and have been playing lights-out basketball as of late. Still, it is hard to ignore Ohio State upsetting top-ranked Michigan and the fact that they took one from the Illini earlier in the season.

At the end of the day, I think I like Illinois on the moneyline. They really just seem like the better team to me, but Ohio State has also proven that they can be pesky, so the 5.5-point spread seems like a lot to spot the Buckeyes.

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