NCAA Men’s Basketball: Ohio State Buckeyes vs Illinois Fighting Illini – Possible Lineups and Predictions

Published 01/16/2021, 6:00 AM EST
Jan 7, 2021; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Ayo Dosunmu (11) reacts after his three point basket in the second half against the Northwestern Wildcats at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports


NCAA Men’s Basketball returns with an exciting Big Ten matchup tonight. The Ohio State Buckeyes are back on the road, as they take on the Illinois Fighting Illini at the State Farm Center in Illinois. It is an early game that will be played at 12 pm EST.

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The Buckeyes fell out of the AP Poll after a surprise defeat to Minnesota. But two wins in their last two games, including a win against Rutgers, which brought them back. They are currently the #21 team, and a win today could propel them up further.

The Fighting Illini started the season ranked #8 in pre-season. But four losses later, they have slid down to the #14 spot. After an unexpected loss against Maryland in their last game, Illinois needs this win to stay in contention for the Big Ten conference title.

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NCAA Men’s Basketball: Can the Fighting Illini bounce back with a win?

The Fighting Illini have four players on their injury list. But none of them feature heavily in their rotation, so it won’t affect them. Junior guard Ayo Dosunmu will be leading them once again. He withdrew his name from the NBA Draft last season to lead the Illini to a title, so he will do his best to ensure that.

Their starting lineup will feature Trent Frazier, Da’Monte Williams, Ayo Dosunmu, and Adam Miller as their guards, while Kofi Cockburn plays as their center.

Jan 2, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini center Kofi Cockburn (21) controls the ball against Purdue Boilermakers forward Trevion Williams (50) during the second half at the State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The Buckeyes will continue to miss senior guard CJ Walker, who is out with a hand injury. He started 10 out of the 11 games he played and hasn’t featured since their loss against Minnesota. They need Duane Washington Jr to step up on offense, as he has been struggling to stay efficient so far.

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Their lineup will have Duane Washington Jr playing as the sole guard, while Kyle Young, Justice Sueing, E.J. Liddell, and Justin Ahrens play as their forwards.

Jan 9, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes guard Duane Washington Jr. (4) drives to the basket as Rutgers Scarlet Knights center Myles Johnson (15) defends during the first half at Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC). Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Fighting Illini will be the favorites for this clash. They will have to keep up with the Buckeyes’ outside shooting and contain Ahrens and Washington. Kofi Cockburn might have a big game since the Buckeyes don’t have anyone who can keep up with him in the post. It’ll be a closely fought game, but the Illini should be able to come out on top.

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Aaron Mathew

1666 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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