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Ohio State Vs. Illinois: Buckeyes Face Tough Road Test

 

Ohio State has been tested at home the past few weeks as Minnesota and Penn State pushed the Buckeyes right down until the end of the game. Saturday, however, Ohio State might get its toughest test yet as it travels to Illinois at noon.

No. 1 Ohio State (19-0, 6-0) crushed Iowa 70-48 Wednesday night in its first game as the nation's top ranked team. David Lighty led the scoring with 18 points and William Buford and Jared Sullinger found their way into double figures as well. DeShaun Thomas had nine points off the bench. The Buckeyes were sloppy, however, committing 20 turnovers on the evening, so they'll likely be looking to lower that total Saturday.

No. 22 Illinois (14-5, 4-2) broke a two game losing streak with a 71-62 win over Michigan State at home. It was a big night off the bench for Brandon Paul, who had 20 points, and Jereme Richmond, who had 14. Mike Davis and Demetri McCamey also had double figures with 11 and 15 points respectively.

Keys to the game after the jump.

When Ohio State Has The Ball

  • It'll be interesting to see how Illinois' Mike Tisdale matches up with Sullinger down low. The two are among the league's premiere big men. Look to see if they cancel each other out or really get a back-and-forth battle going.
  • Assembly Hall will likely be a tougher road environment than anything Ohio State has faced this season. With a veteran squad, you wouldn't expect that to be too much of a problem, but it will still be worth watching to see how the Buckeyes respond.

When Illinois Has The Ball

  • Illinois could use a big game from McCamey. The senior guard is the Fighting Illini's star, and anytime a team face's the No. 1 squad in America, it'll look to its star to make plays in this one.
  • Ohio State needs to watch the guys coming off the bench. If guys like Paul and Richmond have big nights and Illinois; usual suspects get their scoring as well, it could be a tough road to 20-0. 

Overall

Illinois will be entering an easier portion of its schedule after this game, and this will be its last chance to pick up an eye popping win for a while. Expect the Illini to hit Ohio State in the mouth hard and play the Buckeyes as tough as anyone has all season long. Ohio State has had some trouble in its past few games, so today might be the day the conference's last undefeated falls.