Illinois (13-6, 2-4) at No. 17 Ohio State (15-4, 2-4) — 6 p.m. ESPN
Good evening from chilly Columbus, Ohio where two struggling programs are looking to end four-game losing streaks. Who would have thought the Buckeyes and the Illini would be battling on Jan. 23 for sole possession of eighth place in the Big Ten?
The Buckeyes are still in pretty good shape, in terms of getting to the postseason. They were 15-0 and had a couple of wins that looked impressive at the time on the road against Marquette and against Notre Dame in New York. Loren Tate and I listened to Dan Dakich on the drive over today and he had Fran Fraschilla on the show today and they talked about the Buckeyes’ struggles and the consensus was they don’t have good enough shooters and no presence on the inside on the offensive end.
It sounded a lot like they were talking about the Illini.
I’m interested to see what the crowd will be like here tonight with the Buckeyes coming off a disappointing loss at Nebraska. They typically don’t fill this building that holds better than 18,000 and there’s some competition here in town.
Listening to Columbus radio this afternoon, there was a serious debate about whether folks were going to use their Ohio State tickets tonight, or if they’d head across town to watch the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets are riding a seven-game win streak, the best in franchise history and it’s the 1,000th game in the history of that team. It’s a big night for hockey here in Columbus.
Plus, it’s really, really cold outside, so folks might not want to brave the elements to watch a struggling team play against another struggling team tonight.
Got here to the arena about two hours before the tip and most of the Ohio State players were on the floor, headphones on getting up some extra shots. Amir Williams walked in at the same time as me, so he wasn’t among those early shooters.
Mike LaTulip was the first Illinois player on the court tonight getting up some shots. Jaylon Tate joined him soon after.
Ohio State will wear white tonight. The Illini will wear blue.
I’m a fan of the blue uniforms.
I’m going to check things out here and get back to you with another update soon.