Ohio State basketball: Buckeyes have a chance at signature win

The Ohio State basketball team returns home to face No. 14 Illinois after a rough road trip with a chance to add a signature win to their resume.

Jan 27, 2024; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes guard Roddy Gayle Jr. (1) shoots against
Jan 27, 2024; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes guard Roddy Gayle Jr. (1) shoots against / Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

After dropping both games on their recent road trip by double digits to Nebraska and Northwestern, the Ohio State basketball team returns home to face a talented Illinois basketball team. A win tonight on their home floor would be the Buckeyes’ signature win of the season so far. 

Illinois is not just one of the best teams in the Big Ten, but also in all of college basketball as they currently rank 14th in the country according to the updated AP Poll. The Fighting Illini hold a 15-5 record overall and a 6-3 record in conference play, good enough for third place in the Big Ten at the moment. 

The Fighting Illini have won three of their last four games. Last week they split a pair of games losing in overtime at Northwestern 96-91, but then returned home and beat Indiana 70-62.

Illinois has a solid trio of Terrence Shannon Jr., Marcus Domask, and Coleman Hawkins who have been terrific for head coach Brad Underwood all season long. All three are excellent scorers, but Shannon Jr. is the leader at 19.9 points per game. 

The leading trio for Illinois presents very difficult match-ups for the Ohio State basketball team in this one. Shannon Jr. is a dynamic scoring wing that can score from anywhere on the floor. Domask is a good shooter and likes to use his size by taking smaller defenders into the post. The match-up that concerns me the most is Coleman Hawkins because of his ability to stretch the floor. He will force Felix Okpara and others to defend on the perimeter, and that is not an area the Ohio State bigs excel in.

This will not be an easy game for the Ohio State basketball team by any means as this is one of the longest teams in the Big Ten as they don't start anyone shorter than 6'6". Illinois also is a step up in class for this Buckeye basketball team as they rank 7th in offensive efficiency and 30th in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.

Tonight, the Ohio State basketball team must be better at defending on the perimeter. Illinois shoots a ton of threes, the second most in the Big Ten. They will look to take advantage of the Buckeyes' poor perimeter defense by taking and making threes as they shoot it at a 34.1% clip from deep on the season.

The Fighting Illini will also be coming into this game with revenge on their mind as the last time they visited Columbus, the Buckeyes were able to pull off the upset beating Illinois 72-60. However, Ohio State has recently dominated this series at home winning eight of their last ten meetings in Value City Arena.

The Buckeyes are in desperation mode after dropping two in a row on the road and currently sit at a 2-5 record in the month of January. With all that being said, a win tonight would be massive for this Ohio State basketball team because not only will it give them a Quad-1 win on their NCAA Tournament resume, but it will also give them the confidence moving forward that they can hang with the top teams in the Big Ten.

dark. Next. The Ohio State basketball team could start missing the Big Ten Tournament. The Ohio State basketball team could start missing the Big Ten Tournament

In order to watch the Ohio State basketball team take on Illinois tonight, you must have Peacock again. It is the third of five OSU games to be streamed on Peacock, so after tonight there are just two more. Tip-off tonight is set for 7:00 PM Eastern time from the Schott. Hopefully, the Buckeyes can finish off this disastrous month of January the right way with a signature win.