In what might amount to be one of the last chances that Head Coach Bruce Weber has to save his job, he will lead his Illinois Fighting Illini into battle looking for an upset on the NCAA basketball odds on Tuesday night against the Ohio State Buckeyes.
At just 16-11, the argument could be made that the Illini are toast. They are just 5-9 in conference play, and though they do have home wins over both these Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans, they also have five straight losses as well, including a simply dreadful 80-57 loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers on the road on Saturday. Offensively, this team has just lost whatever it was able to muster against OSU. That day, the Illini dropped 79 points. Since then, they have six games in which they haven’t exceeded 63 points out of nine tussles. The opportunities are still there for some upsets, though, and victories in games like this one or the last game of the season at the Wisconsin Badgers could change some minds, especially if the two home games sandwiched in the middle both end in victories. One way or the other though, Illinois is up against it, knowing that there is only one team in the history of the NCAA Tournament to get into the field as an at large with a losing record in conference, and that is seemingly a given at this point. Weber is most certainly on the hot seat and perhaps should be canned.
Ohio State isn’t going to be showing any mercy after losing in Champaign in the middle of January. It might be a tall task for the Buckeyes to become a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but finishing the year at perhaps 28-6 with the Big Ten title might be enough to get the job done. Winning a game like this one seems to be a pre-requisite. The Bucks have dropped two out of three though, including games against both the Michigan Wolverines (on the road) and the Michigan State Spartans (at home). The MSU loss was the last time that the faithful here at Value City Arena saw their team play, and with OSU sporting a 9-4 ATS mark in this building, it is once again another sign that Illinois is up against it on Tuesday night. Even though Ohio State was beaten earlier this year by this team, there were no answers for its bigs. Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas combined for 44 points and 11 boards, though Sullinger did fight some rare foul trouble in this game.
The Final Word: The Illini likely aren’t losing their last four games of the year, and they are certainly going to be getting a double-digit head start from the oddsmakers in this one, but we just don’t see how this one is going to be even remotely close. This is a very angry Ohio State outfit that is surely going to want to put its best foot forward on Tuesday night, and the end result is going to see it romping at home over a hapless Illinois outfit.
Illinois Fighting Illini @ Ohio State Buckeyes Pick: Ohio State Buckeyes
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.