Spread: Ohio State -3
March 6th 2021. 3 PM Value City Arena, Columbus, OH
Illinois Fighting Illini (19-6, 15-4):
Looks like there will still be no Ayo Dosunmu for the Illini, which shouldn’t be a problem the way that the Illini were able to demolish the Big 10 champions without their all american. I was lucky enough that I got to watch the entire game of Illinois vs Michigan on Tuesday because the clinic the Illini put on in Ann Arbor may be one of the best one sided performances on the road against a top 5 team that I have ever seen. I have mentioned it before in previous articles but what I have dubbed the “Mahomes effect” is real. When the best player on the team goes out on injury, everybody else realizes that they need to step up their game and that is exactly what has happened for this Fighting Illini team. Kofi Cockburn was a monster on defense bottling up Hunter Dickenson and Trent Frazier and Andre Curbelo led the way on offense with 22 and 17 points respectively. Most impressively, they were able to lock down one of the best offenses in the country and held them to 53 points while shooting only 34% from the field. If Illinois brings this kind of defensive effort today vs Ohio State, they should be favored to walk out of Columbus with a W.
Ohio State Buckeyes (18-7, 12-7):
Ohio State is looking to bounce back after getting throttled by Iowa last week in the Value City Area bringing up their losing streak to three games now. The loss to Michigan at the start of this streak was an excellent game that the Buckeyes still should have left feeling good about how they stack up with the class of the conference. Then they went out and lost to a Michigan State team that they are clearly better than. While Iowa might be better than OSU, they still should not have gotten embarrassed the way that they did. So what does Ohio State need to do to get back in the win column? First it starts on defense. They have given up at least 70 points in 4 straight games now. Ohio State’s offense will be able to keep them in most games, but when the shots aren’t falling like in the Iowa game, the Buckeyes will struggle. With a win in this game, OSU is back in contention for a 1 seed with a near lock on a 2 seed, but if they lose, the Buckeyes might be looking at a 3 seed.
Even without Ayo Dosunmu, I like Illinois’ chances in this one. Illinois is a very impressive 7-4 ATS on the road including their most recent throttling of Michigan. They are actually 7-1 on the road straight up in their last 8 games. The Illini are also 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games overall. OSU is also not a sure thing at home anymore as they have now lost their last 2 home games. I think Illinois has a much superior defense and even with Dosunmu still sidelined I think Illinois’ offense should be able to keep up scoring with the Buckeyes. Illinois ML might be a good play here but the best value I have seen on that is +115 so it might not be worth it. I think the under might also be a good play because the best chance for Illinois to win is by locking down the Buckeye offense like they did vs Michigan. That would make a correlated parlay with Illinois ML and the under an intriguing bet, but for my best bet I would go the safer route especially if you can find Illinois at +3. Take Illinois +3 for a unit.
Matthew’s college basketball record 20/21: 11-8
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