Illinois at Ohio State Preview

-Illinois at Ohio State

A five game losing streak is on the line tonight in this match-up of two teams currently on four game losing streaks. The Buckeyes have won five in a row at home against the Illini and haven’t lost five games in a row since the 1997-1998 seasons when they lost SEVENTEEN games in a row. Thank goodness social media didn’t exist back then, that’s for sure. One of these teams will start a winning streak tonight and the other will plummet to the bottom of the B1G standings.

The B1G is hands down the toughest conference in the country. Top to bottom there are no easy games this year. OSU, which at one point was ranked in the top 5 nationally, is on a four game losing streak. Wisconsin, who, also at one point was in the top 5, is on a three game losing streak. I could go on and on just how tough this conference is and how that has played a large part in both OSU and the Illini teams recent losing streaks. Both of these teams playing tonight are top 25 teams, in my opinion. They just happen to be playing each other at a time when both teams badly need a win to right the ship and get their seasons back on track.

The Illini are led by 6’4″ junior guard Rayvonte Rice who is averaging nearly 18 pg to go along with 6 rebounds per game and 2 assists per game. But during the losing streak Rice has gone stone cold, only getting 10 ppg on 28% shooting. The other leader on this team is 6’2″ junior guard Tracy Abrams who is averaging 13 points, 4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He is shooting 35% in the current losing streak. For the Illini to have any chance tonight both of these players will need to play extremely well and have someone else step up to help them out.

For Ohio State what needs to happen more than anything else tonight is a refocus on defensive effort that can lead to easy fast break points and easy shots. This team is as talented as anyone in the country but right now mentally they are in a bad place. All the players seem to be frazzled right now and making careless mistakes and can’t hit the broad side of a barn when shooting the ball. Somebody needs to step up and become the leader of this team and get the rest of the team back on path to their season goals. Aaron Craft is the most likely choice but he is never going to be an offensive star. LaQuinton Ross needs to put the team on his back and carry them offensively and draw extra defenders so others can get open. Those open guys need to knock down their shots though and if they can’t, drive to the hoop and make a layup or get some easy fouls and make some foul shots. Amir Williams seems to be disinterested in playing at all and probably shouldn’t at this time until he can get his head straight.

The Keys to this game are simple:

Make your shots.



Drive the ball

Make your foul shots

Defensive Intensity

Keep the home crowd in the game.

Score more points than the Illini even if it is only 1 more point.


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