Ohio State vs. IL - 2/4/18 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

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Heading up the scoring for Ohio State this year is Keita Bates-Diop, with 19.6 PPG and 8.8 RPG. Michael Finke knocked down two 3-pointers as IL jumped out to a 30-15 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the period.

Despite holding No. 18 Ohio State to almost 19 points below its season average, the Wisconsin women's basketball fell to the Buckeyes, 68-55, on Saturday afternoon at the Kohl Center. That's hard to do.

Ohio State put its rebounding advantage to use and hit its free throws down the stretch to hold on for a 75-67 victory in front of a crowd of 18,743 at Value City Arena. Ohio State opened up a six-point lead over third-place Wisconsin after sweeping MI last weekend and the Buckeyes still sit 11 points behind Notre Dame. The tied the game up at 63 and then never looked back. That gave the Buckeyes a 72-67 lead, and any momentum IL had was gone for good. Get a stop. Make a play. Michigan State returns to play after last week's bye, and their last two games were consecutive losses to Minnesota, at home Jan. 18 and in Madison Square Garden Jan. 20. The Illini didn't continue with the same type of assertiveness on the offensive end that helped them build their double-digit lead. Leron Black is leading IL, who is averaging 14.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

The Illini might be in first place in the "Close But No Cigar" league. "They got one and we got none", UW coach Mark Johnson said. "We just weren't able to create much today". We can beat anybody. Amazingly, those were their last points of the half.

IL used its aggressive defense to create offense in the first half of the first half. Mark Alstork, whose offense has largely been missing all season, was suddenly a factor in the scoring column. He scored 17 of his career-high 35 points in the first half.

The Buckeyes trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half before rallying to take the lead by halftime, then used a 10-0 late in the second half to take a lead they made permanent.

"He's going to be a first-round draft pick", Underwood said. "We do everything right". We move the ball, we share it, we're playing together. We forget where the paint is.

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IL has had a rough go of it this season, featuring a 12-11 record while going just 2-8 in their Big Ten schedule.

The message after the eight-point loss? The public betting is strongly behind Ohio State as well.

But too many fouls, a few too many missed free throws and just one made shot out of its last eight was a late hurdle IL couldn't clear. Nichols fouled out with 5:45 to go, Black with 3:21 on the clock. But, the Buckeyes weren't going to let the Illini run away and hide. The help is badly needed, as Underwood confessed post-game.

"I just wanted to come out and be aggressive", Alstork said.

At this point in the season, IL has very little to play for. The Illini led by four with 6:07 to play.

Ohio State's Bates-Diop and Wesson combined for 23 rebounds. Second-ranked Luke Pletcher scored a couple takedowns in the first period and made them stand up in a 5-4 decision.

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