NCAA Basketball: Ohio State vs. Illinois

Joe Freda

Sunday, March 10, 2013 12:11 PM GMT

Sunday, Mar. 10, 2013 12:11 PM GMT

The No. 14 Ohio State Buckeyes have surged in their season’s homestretch with four straight wins, cashing with a 3-1 spread record.Will the Buckeyes cash as big ‘chalk’ or can the Illini find the ‘back door’ for a cover?

Thad Matta’s troops host an early tip in Sunday’s regular-season finale with the Illinois Fighting Illini, who head to Columbus on a 0-4 ATS slide.

Buckeyes, Thomas upset Indiana

Ohio State’s latest victory came in Tuesday’s 67-58 triumph as  7 ½-point road dog against the Indiana Hoosiers. The Buckeyes held Indiana to a 39.6 percent night of field shooting, while edging out the Hoosiers in boards, 34-28.

Buckeyes forward Deshaun Thomas notched team-highs of 18 points and eight rebounds. Ohio State’s Aaron Craft hit 7-of-10 shots from the floor, finishing with 15 points and four of his side’s nine assists.

The matchup’s combined 125 points dipped below the ‘total’ of 141 ½, extending the UNDER to 4-0 in the Buckeyes’ last four contests. Craft united with mate Shannon Scott for eight steals, while Ohio State hit 11-of-16 free throws.

Illini, Paul fall short at Iowa

The same night’s card saw Illinois log its second loss in three games with a 63-55 defeat to the Iowa Hawkeyes. Fighting Illini guard Brandon Paul led his squad’s scoring with 18 points, while he and his mates failed to cash as 4 ½-point road dogs.

Paul combined with mate Nnanna Egwu for 16 rebounds, while Illinois’ D.J. Richardson drilled 3-of-9 buckets beyond the arc en route to 13 points. The Illini were held to a 28.6 percent field shooting mark, while logging a 10-for-17 outing at the foul line.

The contest’s 118 points plunged beneath the ‘total’ of 135, moving the UNDER to 6-2 in Illinois’ last eight games. Illini sophomore Tracy Abrams came away with four assists and three steals, while shooting 1-for-9 from the floor.

[gameodds]14/223675/43/us[/gameodds]

Back the Buckeyes at home

Bookmaker.eu opened the NCAAB odds with Ohio State as a nine-point home favorite, with early NCAAB betting on the Buckeyes lifting the number a ‘hook’ to 9 ½. The ‘total’ was first set at 132 ½, remaining unchanged with initially mixed wagers.

I am tailing the early ‘steam’ here, adding a ticket on Ohio State to Sunday’s basketball picks. The home team is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings between these foes, while the Buckeyes look for revenge here after January’s 74-55 defeat to Illinois.

Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas leads the Big 10 in scoring (19.8 PPG), while Aaron Craft is second in assists (4.4 APG) to only Michigan’s Trey Burke (6.9 APG). Thomas and Craft united for 30 points in last February’s 83-67 home spanking of Illinois, hitting a combined 10-of-13 from the floor.

Illinois has come up short of cashing in its last two spots as a road dog, including last month’s 71-58 setback against the Michigan Wolverines. The Illini were ripped for 51 percent field shooting by the Wolverines, outscored by a 43-27 margin in the second half.

Look for Illinois to be handed another losing ticket here for you basketball picks, adding to the subpar 6-14 ATS mark in the team’s last 20 road spots.

NCAAB Pick:  Ohio State Buckeyes -9 ½ (Bookmaker.eu)

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