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Odds and Ends

Illinois vs Ohio State Best Bets, Odds

by Vaughn Dalzell
Updated On: March 14, 2021, 7:27 pm ET

Illinois (-6) vs. Ohio State

Ohio State enters this contest, winning three closely contested games in three days, while Illinois has played two games in two days with double-digit victories. There is a significant chance Ohio State's gas tank could run out against Illinois' high-tempo offense today for the Big Ten Championship.

Illinois locked up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament with Michigan's one-point loss to Ohio State on Saturday. The Fighting Illini will be the third No. 1 seed, unless the committee has them leapfrog Baylor. Ohio State has an outside chance of being a No. 1 seed with the win over Michigan, but let's be honest, they will be a No. 2 seed at best.

Illinois has won 13 of the last 14 games, including a 73-68 win at Ohio State to end the regular-season. Ohio State won the meeting at Illinois, 87-81, giving the winner of this matchup the season series and Big ten crown. Illinois is 11-3 ATS (78.5%) in the previous 14 games and they went 1-1 ATS and O/U (50%) versus Ohio State.  

Kyle Young is still out for Ohio State, making this matchup even more difficult for the Buckeyes. Young played 24 and 28 minutes in both meetings versus Illinois, while only averaging 4.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists - his impact goes beyond the stats. 

Illinois recorded 1.14 points per possession in both meetings with Ohio State, providing consistency. Ohio State posted 1.06 in the loss and 1.23 points per possession in the win. 

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In the two games without Young, Ohio State recorded 1.11 points per possession versus Michigan and 0.99 versus Michigan State. They allowed 1.04 (MSU) and 1.10 points per possession (Michigan) in those two games, not good signs. 

Using NBC Sports Edge Tool, The Edge Finder, I searched how well Ohio State has performed under Head Coach Chris Holtmann amidst a three-game winning streak. The results turned out not to so well. OSU is 19-22 ATS (46.3%) and 20-20-1 O/U (50%) since 2017 following a three-game winning streak or more. 

While the O/U number might be a toss-up play, the spread strengthens playing Illinois' spread based on motivation and fatigue factors. In none of those games has Ohio State played four-consecutive days.

This season alone, Ohio State is 4-5 ATS (44.4%) and 5-3-1 to the Over (62.5%) following a winning streak of three or more games. When they try to extend to their fourth-straight win, OSU is 2-1 SU (66.6%), beating Notre Dane and Iowa, but losing to Purdue.

I expect Ohio State to hang around before Illinois puts them to rest. The Buckeyes will only have so much energy and if they cannot match the Fighting Illini's pace, they should find themselves digging out of a double-digit deficit a time or two. Illinois looks title-ready and there is no fading this team as of right now. 

Game Pick: Illinois -6 (1u)

Vaughn Dalzell

Vaughn Dalzell is a former Division I SID, two-time IUP Alumnus and also a contributor on numberFire, FantasyPros and Bet The Prop. You can follow him on Twitter for more insight @VmoneySports.