A pair of AP Top 25 teams face off in Big Ten action on Thursday night as the Illinois Fighting Illini host the Ohio State Buckeyes. These programs haven't faced off since the conference tournament championship last March when the Illini edged the Buckeyes in an overtime thriller.
They're expected to take tonight's game as well with college basketball betting lines opening with Illinois as a 6-point home favorite. Here are our best free Ohio State vs. Illinois picks and predictions for Thursday, February 23, with tipoff at 8 p.m. ET.
Ohio State vs Illinois odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
This line hit the board with Illinois installed as a 6-point favorite with the Over/Under at 141. As of 9:30 a.m. ET, the line has stayed steady while the total has creeped down to 140.5 at some sportsbooks.
Ohio State vs Illinois predictions
- Prediction: Ohio State +6 (-110)
- Prediction: Under 141 (-110)
- Best bet: Illinois team total Under 73.5 (-115)
Predictions made on 2/24/2022 at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Ohio State vs Illinois game info
• Location: State Farm Center, Champaign, IL
• Date: Thursday, February 24, 2022
• Tip-off: 9:00 p.m. ET
• TV: Fox Sports 1
Ohio State at Illinois betting preview
Ohio State: Seth Towns F (Out), Justice Sueing F (Out).
Illinois: RJ Melendez G (Out), Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk F (Out), Austin Hutcherson G (Out).
Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Buckeyes are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games overall. Find more NCAA betting trends for Ohio State vs. Illinois.
Ohio State vs Illinois picks and predictions
Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.
The No. 22-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes are fresh off a win against Indiana on Monday when they were pushed into overtime but still managed to cover the 6.5-point spread as home faves. They are now 10-5 SU and 9-6 ATS in conference play.
Illinois is coming off a 79-74 victory against Michigan State and is 12-4 SU (8-8 ATS) against Big Ten foes. However, the Illini are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games and won't find it easy to cover as 6-point faves tonight.
The Illini are strong on both ends of the floor, ranking 20th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom while sitting 24th in adjusted defensive efficiency. That said, they tend to play a lot of close games and are 5-5 SU in their previous 10 contests with three of those wins coming by fewer than six points.
In a conference loaded with talented centers, the Illini might have the best of the bunch in Kofi Cockburn who averages 21.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. Cockburn was kept in check offensively against Ohio State last season, scoring 16 points or fewer in all three meetings.
Led by big man E.J. Liddell (19.5 points per game on 51 FG%), Ohio State is 10th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency while ranking second among Big Ten teams with a 47.9 FG%.
Although the Buckeyes rank a modest 91st in adjusted defensive efficiency, they hold foes to just 40.9% shooting from the field and play a slow-paced style which limits possessions and tends to keep games (even ones that they lose) within reach.
Although the Buckeyes do tend to travel poorly it's worth noting that they're still 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games as a road dog and that the road team is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings in the head-to-head.
Prediction: Ohio State +6 (-110)
Although both of these programs are very efficient on offense, they're also tough on defense and play at a slower tempo. Illinois limits foes to 66.7 ppg while sitting 193rd in the nation in adjusted tempo.
While OSU has an almost identical scoring defense of 66.8 ppg and ranks 291st in adjusted tempo.
The Buckeyes have also been a very profitable Under bet lately, going 1-4 O/U in their last five games with the only Over hitting in that OT contest against Indiana after the two sides combined for just 126 points in regulation. Back it again tonight.
Prediction: Under 141 (-110)
Illinois team total is set at 73.5 tonight which might be a tad ambitious given its recent play. The Illini have been held below that number in six of their last nine games, and are averaging a modest 68.1 ppg over that span.
Now they face off against a Buckeyes team that plays at a sluggish pace and has held foes to just 61.5 ppg on 37.4% shooting in its last four games. Take the Under on the Illini team total.
Pick: Illinois team total Under 73.5 (-115)
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