The Ohio State Buckeyes have experienced quite the falloff for a previously ranked team, entering Sunday having lost 14 of their last 15 games. Ohio State will look to get out of this slump for Sunday’s home tilt against the Illinois Fighting Illini.
Illinois Fighting Illini (-4.5, 145.5) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Even with the poor performances this season, the Buckeyes’ defense has still been solid at home. Overall, Ohio State ranks 165th in the nation in points allowed on a per-possession basis but surrenders 16.6 points fewer per 100 possessions when playing at home than in a road or neutral court environment.
Illinois’ defense has been even stronger, ranking 17th in the nation in points allowed on a per-possession basis and entering Sunday having allowed 71 points or fewer in 11 of its last 14 games.
During that stretch, Illinois held Ohio State to just 60 points on Jan. 24. Even with Ohio State shooting 4-of-10 from 3-point range and committing just six turnovers, Illinois prevailed and came out with a 69-60 win.
While Sunday’s affair will likely involve more possessions than the previous meeting in which there were fewer than 65 possessions, Ohio State has been playing at a slower tempo, ranking 248th in the nation in possessions per game. In comparison, Illinois has played at a rate of nearly 5.5 possessions per game fewer since the new year.
Illinois should shoot the ball better this time around after going 5-of-28 from 3-point range in the first matchup, but overall rank 308th in 3-point shooting percentage. Threes aren’t the only issue as the Fighting Illini may struggle to find consistent second-chance points as the Buckeyes allow an offensive rebound on just 21.1% of missed shots by opponents at home this season, good for 35th in the nation.
Ohio State enters Sunday having scored 71 points or fewer in 11 of its last 13 games and with the way Illinois has been playing defense as of late, the offense will not be ignited and this will likely be another low-scoring affair.
The Play: Illinois vs. Ohio State Under 145.5
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