Free NCAA Basketball Picks for Illinois vs. Ohio State

Jeff Grant

Thursday, January 23, 2014 2:34 PM GMT

The Illinois Fighting Illini and Ohio State Buckeyes have both fallen on hard times in January, as the two teams aim to snap lengthy losing streaks Thursday night. Will they be able to get out of this bad track in time to beat the college basketball odds?

Let’s take a closer look at the NCAA basketball odds for this Big Ten Conference matchup at Value City Arena, with the opening tip scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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Dreadful stretch

Illinois is 0-4 SUATS over its last four games, as it looks to bounce back from a 78-62 defeat to the Michigan State Spartans as four-point home underdogs last Saturday, while going OVER the betting total of 131.5.

The Fighting Illini have dropped five straight Big Ten road games, and three straight on the road versus top-25 opponents.

Over the last two-plus seasons, the program is 1-3 SUATS as road underdogs of 9.5 to 12 points, with the OVER going 3-1 in that situation.

Where’s the defense?

Ohio State is allowing an average of 71.8 points over the course of its current four-game losing streak, as it suffered a 68-62 defeat to the Nebraska Cornhuskers as eight-point road favorites Monday.

The Buckeyes are 9-2 SU against the Fighting Illini as a ranked squad under head coach Thad Matta, including a perfect 5-0 mark at this venue.

College basketball handicappers will find that the team is 23-0 SU and 14-9 ATS as home favorites of 9.5 to 12 points in their last 23 opportunities.

House of Horrors

The Fighting Illini are 41-44 SU all-time in this series, but they’ve gone 2-10 at this venue—earning wins in 2004 and 2009.

Illinois has three probable starters averaging in double figures, with junior guard Rayvonte Rice leading the way at 17.4 points a contest.

Defending the arc

The Buckeyes are worthy double-digit home favorites on the SBR odds page due to their perimeter defense, as they’ve limited opponents to 26.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc this season.

Ohio State is also a money-making 4-0 SUATS when failing to cover the number in three or more consecutive games the last two-plus seasons.

NCAA Basketball Picks: Thursday Picks of the Day

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Buckeyes for their free college basketball picks, as the host is 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings in this series—cover the point spread by an average of 9.5 points a game over that stretch.

College Basketball Pick: Ohio State Buckeyes -10