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3/5 Big Ten Basketball Preview: Illinois Travels to Ohio State

The Illini and Buckeyes meet in a top 25 showdown.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Game of the Night

#23 Illinois Fighting Illini at #19 Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET (ESPN)

Tonights biggest game is a showdown between two top 25 teams in Illinois and Ohio State. Last time out the Illini narrowly avoided a loss to Indiana in a 67-66 victory while the Buckeyes beat hated rival Michigan by double digits. Another interesting wrinkle is the Illini are 12-6 so they could still win the Big Ten if they win out and both Maryland and Michigan State lose their season finales.

It won’t be an easy task as Illinois is set to head to Columbus to face a Buckeyes team that has won three in a row, including home games against ranked Maryland and Michigan. Ohio State had a big day from Duane Washington Jr. against the Wolverines, with the guard shooting 5 of 7 from three on his way to 20 points. With all starters reaching double figures and Ohio State shooting 52.4% from three, the Buckeyes were able to put away the Wolverines.

Illinois managed to avoid losing to Indiana after catching a few potential officiating breaks down the stretch, but they still struggled from deep (33.3% from three) and their offense still hasn’t picked up much. Ayo Dosunmu has been great all year and Kofi Cockburn has been a strong presence inside, but the Illini offense has been dreadful the past few months. That could prove to be problematic against a Ohio State team figuring things out after a rough stretch in the middle of the season. Through 18 conference games the Illini are averaging 65.6 points per game, good for 13th in the conference. They’re also shooting 45.4% from two (13th) and 29.5% from three (13th).

If this game was at home the Illini would have a better chance but their issues on offense and having to head to Columbus should give the Buckeyes a slight edge. It should be a close game, but unless Dosunmu can have a dominating performance look for Ohio State to add another win to their resume.

Pick: Ohio State

The Rest

Nebraska Cornhuskers at #25 Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET (FS1)

Michigan climbed to 19th in the polls before losing to Wisconsin and Ohio State last week. The Wolverines managed to remain in the polls at 25th and have a much easier opponent tonight with senior night taking place against Nebraska.

The Cornhuskers have lost 14 games in a row and now are sitting in last place in the standings. It’s been a rough year for Fred Hoiberg and things didn’t get any better on senior day this past weekend. Even though Nebraska was facing bottom dwelling Northwestern they ended up losing in overtime...while shooting 8 of 30 (!) from the free throw line (!!!). In comparison they shot 12 of 32 from three, while shooting 26.7% (!!!) from the charity stripe.

Now Nebraska takes their dreadful defense and free throw shooting on the road to face a Michigan team looking to bounce back from a rough week. The Cornhuskers inability to play defense is set to be problematic once again, even if Michigan has been inconsistent at times this year. The Wolverines got a major jumpstart when Isaiah Livers returned to the lineup but on nights where Livers is cold the offense tends to sputter. That being said, it really shouldn’t matter against Nebraska.

Michigan closes out their last home game of the season with another win.

Pick: Michigan