Big Ten Basketball: Ohio St Buckeyes at Illinois Fighting Illini

#5 Ohio St Buckeyes at Illinois Fighting Illini
Assembly Hall – Champaign, Illinois
Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Ohio St -9 1/2
Current Line: Ohio St – 9 1/2
Opening Total: 125
Current Total: 124
Opening Money Line: Ohio St -550 / Illinois +425
Current Money Line: Ohio St -550 / Illinois +425

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Illinois and Ohio St meet Tuesday night in Champaign in a crucial Big Ten game. The Buckeyes are 9.5 point road favorites.

Both Ohio St and Illinois are 3-1 in the Big Ten this season, part of a 5 team logjam behind 3-0 Michigan St for first place. The Buckeyes are 15-2 this season under coach Thad Matta, and Illinois is 14-3 under Bruce Weber. Illinois leads the series 102-69 against Ohio St, but the Buckeyes have won 5 games in a row against the Illini. Illinois is 60-25 all-time in Champaign against Ohio St.

The Buckeyes have losses Kansas and Indiana this season. Ohio St has 3 conference wins over, Northwestern, Nebraska and Iowa all by 29 points or more. The Buckeyes have non-conference wins over Wright St, Florida, Valparaiso, Duke, South Carolina, and Miami-Ohio.

Illinois has losses to UNLV, Missouri, and Purdue this season. The Illini have conference wins over Minnesota, Northwestern, and Nebraska 59-54 Saturday. All games were close, decided by a total of 15 points. Illinois has non-conference wins over Richmond, Illinois St, Gonzaga, Maryland, and Cornell.

Ohio St is outscoring opponents 78-55 this season. The Buckeyes are shooting 49.6% from the field including 33.3% from 3 point range. Ohio St makes 67.9% of their free throws. The Buckeyes average 37.8 rebounds a game, and has a rebounding margin of +8.7. Ohio St averages 17.4 assists, 11.9 turnovers, 8.4 steals, and 2.7 blocks a game. Buckeye opponents are shooting 39% from the field, including 30.3% from 3 point range. Ohio St is forcing 18.1 turnovers a game, and opponents only average 8.6 assists a game.

Ohio St forward Jared Sullinger averages 17.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1 assists, and 1.3 steals a game. He leads the Buckeyes in scoring, rebounding and blocks, but he only averages 0.9 a game. Guard William Buford averages 15.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.6 assists a game. He is shooting 36.2% from 3 point range. Forward Deshaun Thomas averages 14.8 points and 4.1 rebounds a game. Thomas makes 35.7% of his 3 point shots. Point guard Aaron Craft averages 7.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 2.6 steals a game. He leads the team inĀ  steals and assists.

Illinois is outscoring opponents 68-60 this season. The Illini are shooting 45.2% from the field, including 31.6% from 3 point range. Illinois makes 70.6% of their free throws. The Illini average 34.7 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +4.5. Illinois averages 13.2 assists, 13.9 turnovers, 5.7 steals, and 4.8 blocks a game. Illini opponents are shooting 40.1% from the field, including 35.8% from 3 point range. Illinois forces 14.8 turnovers a game on defense.

Illinois guard D.J. Richardson averages 13.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists a game. He is shooting 40.6% from 3 point range and leads the team in scoring. Richardson is probable with a wrist injury. Meyers Leonard averages 12.9 points, 8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 2.2 blocks a game. He leads the team in blocks and rebounds. Brandon Paul averages 12.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.6 steals a game. He leads the Illini in assists and steals. Sam Maniscalco averages 9.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists a game. He is doubtful with an ankle injury, and has missed the last two games. Devin Langford is out indefinitely with a broken finger.

Illinois is 7-8 against the spread and the total is also 7-8 this season. Ohio St is 7-5 ATS and the total is 6-6 this season. Ohio St 4-1 ATS in the last 5 against Illinois, and the road team is 7-3 in the last 10 in the series. The Buckeyes are 4-1 ATS overall, and against Big Ten teams, 7-2 after allowing less than 50 points, 19-8-1 in Tuesday games, and 2-5 in road games. The Fighting Illini are 4-0 ATS in Tuesday games, 1-5 at home, and after a straight up win.

Except for a 74-70 loss at Indiana, Ohio St has been beating up on the lesser teams in the Big Ten. Though Illinois isn’t quite as talented as Indiana, they are a step up from Northwestern, Nebraska, and Iowa. This should be a nice road test for the Buckeyes, but they simply have too much talent for the banged up Illini to handle.

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