Ohio State vs. Illinois Predictions, Odds, Preview

Mar. 14, 2021
Thom Cunningham
NCAA BK Expert

The Ohio State Buckeyes take on the Illinois Fighting Illini in the Big Ten Championship on Sunday afternoon. Tip is set for 3:30 p.m. (ET) and will air on CBS.


Ohio State-Illinois Betting Odds

  • Spread: Illinois -4.5
  • Total: 151.5

Odds Subject to Change

Illinois opens as the favorite, given a -4.5-point spread. Illinois has covered the spread in both of its Big Ten Tournament games, as a -3-point favorite against Iowa and an -8-point favorite against Rutgers. Illinois won both games by a double-digit point total.

Ohio State has covered the spread in two straight Big Ten Tournament games as well, covering +6-points against Michigan and -1-point against Purdue. The Buckeyes failed to cover the spread as an -11-point favorite against Minnesota.

The point total is set at 151.5, a bit high. Illinois is split on the O/U during Big Ten Tourney play, however, has scored 82 points or more in each game. Ohio State has gone OVER the point total in two of three Big Ten Tournament games, going UNDER for the first time in its last game versus Michigan.

Betting Analysis – Ohio State Buckeyes

2021 Season - Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 18-8
  • ATS: 14-11-1
  • O/U: 14-11-1

Ohio State has seemingly gotten its grove back, a bid for a No. 1 seed in the March Madness Tournament for most of the season. A late fumble saw Illinois take their spot, but Ohio State has looked sharp in the Big Ten Tournament.

Duane Washington Jr. is the name to watch, becoming one of the most lethal three-point shooters and leading the Buckeyes in points per game. There's a long list of key players for Ohio State, from E.J. Liddell to C.J. Walker.

Zed Key has become the big name to watch however, as the freshman has been very productive when taking the court for Liddell. The freshman, along with transfer Seth Towns, have stepped up in timely moments for Ohio State. This will be key for a deep run in the tournament, as the bench players for Ohio State are beginning to play with conviction.

The standout stat for Ohio State is on the charity line, as the Buckeyes hit 76.9% of their free throws which ranks 28th nationally. They also make 16.5 per game, and that total ranks ninth in the nation. This is a team with lots of talent, a bench playing with confidence and the ability to close out tough games at the line.

Betting Analysis – Illinois Fighting Illini

2021 Season - Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 20-6
  • ATS: 16-9-1
  • O/U: 14-11-1

Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn are the obvious names to watch in this game. The two average an insane amount of points, but equally as important are Trent Frazier and Andrew Curbello.

Dosunmu and Cockburn can win most matchups with ease, but Frazier and Curbello (much like Ohio State's bench players) will need to make big plays in timely moments. The success of that will dictate how far this team can go, but for this game Frazier vs Washington is one matchup to watch.

There are a lot of stats that standout for Illinois, one of the most efficient offenses across the board. They rank seventh nationally in field goal percentage (50.1%) and two-pointers made per game (22.4). They also rank 34th in the nation for three-point percentage (37.9%), while hitting 15.7 free throws per game which ranks 30th nationally.

Illinois averages 16.1 assists per game, which ranks 29th in the nation. Cockburn, Dosunmu and De'Monte Williams are largely responsible for the Illini averaging 40.3 rebounds per game which ranks 12th in the nation. Add all this up, what you have is the nation's 19th-most efficient offense that scores the 16th-most points per game.

Inside the Stats – Ohio State Buckeyes

  • PS/G: 77.3 (49th)
  • PA/G: 70.4 (187th)
  • Off Rtg: 113.6 (11th)
  • Def Rtg: 103.5 (255th)

Inside the Stats – Illinois Fighting Illini

  • PS/G: 81 (16th)
  • PA/G: 68.5 (121st)
  • Off Rtg: 112.3 (19th)
  • Def Rtg: 94.9 (56th)

Key Players to Watch

  • OHST - E.J. Liddell
  • OHST - Duane Washington Jr.
  • ILL - Ayo Dosunmu
  • ILL - Kofi Cockburn

Ohio State-Illinois Predictions

It's hard to bet against the Illini right now, running roughshod through the Big Ten. The schools are a combined 28-22-2 on the O/U this season that slightly favors OVER. Each school has also scored 79 points or more in both games this tournament.

It's fair to assume a sprint to the finish line here, and although high take the slightly favoring O/U odds and hot offenses to go OVER. If you fancy the point spread market instead, Ohio State should cover but Illinois winning is the best bet. Perhaps live bet and bank on Ohio State seeing minus-value at some point.

  • Score Prediction: Illinois 78 Ohio State 74
  • Best Bets: OVER
  • Best Bets: Illinois SU (live bet plus-value)


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