Ohio State Buckeyes
(19-0, 8-8 ATS)
Illinois Fighting Illini
(14-5, 10-9 ATS)
Assembly Hall could be the final resting ground for the undefeated season of the Ohio State Buckeyes, as the Illinois Fighting Illini hope that they can pull off the tremendous upset at home on Saturday. This should be one of the best NCAA basketball betting battles of the entire season on Saturday, and is one that cannot be missed.
Ohio State is one of the last teams standing with a bagel in the loss column this year, and Head Coach Thad Motta and company hope that that doesn’t change any for the rest of the season. After four straight games without a ‘W’ against the NCAA basketball betting lines, the Buckeyes got back into the win column with a 70-48 romp over the Iowa Hawkeyes on Wednesday in the final duel before this one at Assembly Hall. This is one of the most efficient teams in the country. Ohio State is shooting 50.0 percent as a team this year, ranking No. 4 in the land. On top of that, OSU ranks No. 5 in the country in total defense at 56.6 points per game allowed. Jared Sullinger is a tremendous scorer at 17.4 points per game, but he certainly has a lot of help. William Buford is averaging 13.7 points per game, while David Lighty is at 13.0 points per game. Jon Diebler is probably still lacking a bit this year at just 11.5 points per game, but there is no doubt that he is incredibly strong and can drop 20+ points on any team in the nation.
Illinois has a significantly better team this year than it did a year ago when it was left out of the NCAA Tournament, but it isn’t a matter of infused talent. Head Coach Bruce Weber brought back basically his entire team from last year, and there is definitely some unfinished business for this squad. A win over the No. 1 team in the nation would go a long way to making sure that there isn’t another March spent in the NIT. So far at home this year, the Fighting Illini are 3-0 SU and ATS at home and just 1-2 SU and ATS on the road in conference play. A lot of fingers were pointed at Demetri McCarney for why Illinois didn’t make the dance last year, but he is certainly doing his thing this campaign. McCarney is shooting 52.5 percent from three point range and a healthy .483 percent from the field, and he is averaging 16.2 points per game, easily leading the team. Don’t forget about Mike Davis, DJ Richardson, Mike Tisdale, Brandon Paul, and Jereme Richmond, all of which are capable of scoring double digits in any game.
The Illini are going to be trendy selections in this game, but they way to beat the college basketball odds is by taking the Buckeyes. Ohio State is clearly the superior team in this game, and by hook or by crook, it is going to figure out how to get the job done in what should be a fantastic clash.
NCAA Basketball Expert Pick: Ohio State Buckeyes