At a Glance: Ohio State

A closer look at Illinois next opponent - the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Illinois (13-6, 2-4) at No. 17 Ohio State (15-4, 2-4)
Thursday, Jan. 23, 6:02 CST - Columbus, Ohio - Value City Arena (18,809)
ESPN - Joe Tessitore & Sean Farnham

Notes (per Ohio State sports info):

Craft Finalist for 2014 Collegiate Wooden Cup - Senior Aaron Craftis a finalist for the 2014 Collegiate Wooden Cup, given annually to a collegiate and a professional athlete who have made the greatest positive influence in the lives of others. Craft is one of five collegiate finalists for the award, which will be presented April 22 in Atlanta. A champion on the court, Craft also finds time to work with others in the Columbus community and abroad. He traveled to Haiti last summer on a mission trip, has volunteered at a local food bank and provided support to children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

Craft Earns Big Ten Player of the Week - Aaron Craftreached 600 career assists with 10 helpers at Purdue to crack the Top 10 all-time in Big Ten history. He finished the first week of conference play with 14 assists, no turnovers and seven steals to lead Ohio State to a 2-0 start in Big Ten Conference play and an overall mark of 15-0. Craft averaged 8.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 3.5 steals and shot 50 percent from the field (7-14) in wins at Purdue (78-69) and at home vs. Nebraska (84-53).

The Illinois Series - Illinois leads the all-time series with Ohio State 101-66. Ohio State is 42-40 in Columbus. The Buckeyes are 23-11 vs. Illinois when ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. Thad Matta, since taking over the Ohio State program in 2004-05, is 12-5 against Illinois. Matta teams ranked against Illinois are 9-2, including a 5-0 record in Columbus. Aaron Craft is the lone Buckeye averaging double figures offensively vs. the Illini. The senior point guard averages 10.8 points in the series. He is making 51 percent of his field goal attempts (24-47) and 87 percent of his foul shots (13-15). Shannon Scott, a sophomore guard, is the leading Ohio State rebounder in the series with 5.0 rpg. Illinois is 2-7 at Value City Arena.

A Look at the Illini - Illinois opened the season with an 11-2 record in non-conference play. The Illini began Big Ten play with an overtime win vs. Indiana and another victory in Champaign over Penn State. Illinois has since lost four in a row, at Wisconsin and Northwestern and then at home to Purdue and Michigan State. Rayvonte Rice leads the team in scoring (17.4 ppg.) and rebounding (5.9 rpg.). Tracy Abrams adds 12.8 ppg and Joseph Bertrand 10.6 ppg.

Ohio State vs. The Big Ten - Ohio State is in its 102nd season as a member of the Big Ten Conference. The Buckeyes own an overall record of 757-677 against current league members. Thad Matta, in 14 seasons as a head coach, owns an overall record of 135-56 vs. league members, including a mark of 132-54 while coaching the Buckeyes.

Matta Extends Streak vs. Non-Conference Foes - Thad Mattahas directed Ohio State to at least 10 wins during non-conference play in each of his 10 seasons in Columbus. Matta is 133-23 vs. non-conference competition at Ohio State and 132-54 vs. Big Ten foes (regular season and Big Ten tournament games) for an overall record of 265-77. In 14 seasons as a head coach (1 at Butler, 3 at Xavier and 10 at Ohio State) Matta is 135-56 vs. the Big Ten. He has winning records vs. nine league teams (ILL (12-5), IND (11-7), Iowa (11-5), MICH (17-4), MINN (10-6), NW (15-1), PSU (17-0), PUR (15-6) and NEB (6-1). Matta is 11-11 vs. Wisconsin and 10-10 vs. Michigan State.

Buckeyes Among National Stat Leaders - After 18 games, Ohio State ranks No. 3 nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.266), No. 7 in scoring defense (57.9 ppg.), No. 9 in fewest fouls per game (15.8) and No. 12 in scoring margin (15.9 ppg.). Aaron Craft is No. 9 nationally in total steals (43). Shannon Scottis No. 24 (39).

Probable starters:
LaQuinton Ross: F, 6-8, 220, Jr. - 13.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg
Lenzelle Smith Jr: G, 6-4, 210, Sr. - 11.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Aaron Craft: G, 6-2, 195, Sr. - 9.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Amir Williams: C, 6-11, 25-, Jr. - 9.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg
Shannon Scott: G, 6-1, 185, Jr. - 7.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg

Off the bench:
Sam Thompson: F, 6-7, 200, Jr. - 7.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Marc Loving: F, 6-7, 215, Fr. - 6.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg
Amedeo Della Valle: G, 6-5, 190, So. - 5.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg
Trey McDonald: C, 6-8, 240, Jr. - 1.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg

Series history:
Series record: Illinois leads 104-71
Series streak: Ohio State W1
Record @ Columbus: Ohio State leads 44-41
Series streak @ Columbus: Ohio State W4
Last year's meetings: No. 11 ILL 74, No. 8 OSU 55 - 1/5/13 @ Champaign
No. 14 OSU 68, ILL 55 - 3/10/13 @ Columbus
Groce vs. Ohio State: 1-1

Fun fact:

Ohio State has been in the Big Ten Tournament Championship game five consecutive seasons.

Notable quotable:

"Oh, I love it - that's toughness plays, passion, inspiring plays. Any time a guy sacrifices his body to make a play for his team, that's the highest level of teamism - I don't know if that's a word." - Coach John Groce following Illinois' win against Ohio State last season.

OSU team info:

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