Preview: Ohio State vs. Illinois

Any concerns that No. 17 Ohio State might struggle after losing freshman Luther Muhammed to a dislocated shoulder were eased with a Big Ten-opening victory over Minnesota on Sunday. The Buckeyes will try to win their second straight conference game when they travel to Chicago to face Illinois on Wednesday night.

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Muhammed was averaging the second-most minutes on the team at 27.9 per game and his absence forced Ohio State to change its rotations against Minnesota in its first game without him. The Buckeyes used nine new lineup combinations and went with three guards on the floor at the same time for only 5 1/2 minutes after playing with three guards together for more than 25 minutes in the first seven games. Ohio State responded with six players scoring in double figures against a team that entered the game on a roll. Illinois is certainly not on a roll, having dropped six of its last seven games, including Sunday’s 75-60 loss at Nebraska.

TV:
7 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

ABOUT OHIO STATE (7-1): Junior Andre Wesson stepped up with Muhammad out and turned in arguably the best game as a Buckeye against Minnesota with a career-high 16 points. C.J. Jackson, Musa Jallow and Duane Washington Jr. were also significant contributors with 11, 11 and 10 points, respectively. Sophomore Kaleb Wesson, the team’s leading scorer and Andre’s younger brother, continued to produce with 15 points against the Gophers and fellow forward Kyle Young also reached double figures with 10 points and added a game-high eight rebounds.

ABOUT ILLINOIS (2-6): The Fighting Illini dug themselves into a big early hole at Nebraska and never could escape in their Big Ten opener. Freshman Giorgi Bezhanishvili (14 points), Kipper Nichols (12) and Ayo Dosunmu (10) combined for 36 of Illinois’ 60 points. Dosunmu (13.1 points per game) and Bezhanishvili (10.0) are two of the four players averaging in double figures for the season along with Trent Frazier (14.7) and Aaron Jordan (11.1) for the Illini, who are struggling with turnovers and putting opponents on the foul line.

TIP-INS

1. Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said Muhammad’s status is “day-to-day, week-to-week,” and was noncommittal about him being back for the Illinois game.

2. Ohio State is preparing to face its third straight different style of defense (Syracuse zone, Minnesota conventional and Illinois ball pressure).

3. Illinois, which has four players from the Chicago area on its roster, has played 52 games in the United Center with a record of 37-15.

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Posted in CBB, Top Fantasy Picks

Preview: Northwestern at Ohio State

Sixth-ranked Ohio State looks to strengthen its case for a College Football Playoff berth when it faces No. 21 Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday in Indianapolis. Ohio State eviscerated seventh-ranked Michigan 62-39 to capture the Big Ten East Division title and vault into contention for a postseason spot, but No. 4 Georgia and fifth-ranked Oklahoma are potential roadblocks in their path to the playoff as the Buckeyes aim to win their second consecutive conference championship game.

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“When you start using terms like national championship and playoffs, that’s very rare air,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer told reporters. “That’s why we have a job to do … to go win the Big Ten championship and worry about that down the road.” Northwestern is making its first Big Ten Championship game appearance after ending Wisconsin’s dominance in the West division. The Wildcats have won seven straight conference games, including a 24-16 victory over Illinois to capture the Land of Lincoln Trophy last week, and hope to ride the momentum by knocking off the Buckeyes for the first time since 2004. “I’m fired up to take the purple down to Indy as every year our goal is to win the Big Ten West and we’ve gotten over that hump,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald told reporters. “We have an opportunity to take the team to the Rose Bowl and if that doesn’t motivate you then I don’t know what does.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Ohio State -14

ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (8-4, 8-1 Big Ten): Clayton Thorson completed 12-of-18 passes for 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns while adding another on the ground as the Wildcats downed the Fighting Illini for the fourth consecutive time. Linebacker Paddy Fisher earned All-Big Ten First Team honors after making 92 tackles and forcing three fumbles, while defensive end Joe Gaziano was named to the second team following six sacks and 11 tackles for loss in 2018. Fitzgerald was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year after guiding the Wildcats to eight conference wins, which matched a single-season program record.

ABOUT OHIO STATE (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten): Dwayne Haskins continued his push for the Heisman Trophy as he threw for 396 yards and equaled a program record with six touchdown passes in the win against Michigan. Haskins was named the Big Ten Player of the Week for a record sixth time after his dominant display against the Wolverines, breaking the old mark of five set by former Heisman Trophy winner and former Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith in 2006. Defensive tackle Dre’mont Jones was selected to the Big Ten First Team after registering 7.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss to go along with a pair of touchdowns while Chase Young earned second-team honors.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Ohio State has won six consecutive meetings with Northwestern.

2. Haskins set Big Ten single-season records with 4,081 passing yards and 42 touchdowns.

3. The Wildcats have won 15 of their last 16 Big Ten games dating back to last year.

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Posted in CFB, Top Fantasy Picks

NCAA Fantasy Basketball

Ohio State vs Michigan State

Things are heating up in College Basketball in this last season game with Ohio State Buckeyes travelling to East Lansing to face the Michigan State Spartans once more. FanPicks is proud to bring you this NCAA Fantasy Basketball Preview ahead of the big March Madness tournament.

NCAA Fantasy Basketball

The Buckeyes are heavy underdogs coming into this game against the number 2 ranked Spartans. They’re a very young energetic team with a lot of potential when they play their best basketball. Currently tied in 5th with Iowa and Purdue, it will be the second time they meet Michigan State in less than 2 weeks. Despite a solid performance from Ohio State, they were unable to stop the red hot shooting from Bryn Forbes who sank 7 of his 10 3 pt attempts and finishing the night with 27. Even with the lost of their star forward Jae’Sean Tate for the season due to a shoulder injury, they’ve been playing well and other players have stepped up such as freshman Mickey Mitchell. The Buckeyes have lost their last 3 when visiting the Spartans but all games were decided by 4 pts or less. They will absolutely need a formula to stop Forbes’ shooting, currently the best in the country.

 

Going into this last game of their season, clinching the Big Ten title is impossible for the second ranked Spartans. However, they still have a good shot at runner up, currently in a 3 way second place tie with Wisconsin and Maryland, both playing on Sunday. Their leading scorer, senior Denzel Valentine will be playing his last season game tomorrow as a Spartans. Ranked among conference leaders, he’s mentioned in potential candidates to become national player of the year averaging 19.3 pts, 7.6 boards and 7.3 assists per game. Those absurd numbers put him on pace to be the first player in NCAA since 1983-84 season to rank top 10 in boards and assists, as well as high scoring average. He’s been getting quite the help lately from his teammate, Bryn Forbes, who’s been playing phenomenal. Forbes, the nationwide leader in 3-pt shooting average broke the Big Ten record this past Wednesday in their win against Rutgers, sinking 11 from beyond the arc. This will be an interesting and closer game people think with both teams in East Lansing.

Posted in CBB

NFL Combine Day 2

Day 2 of the NFL Combine has come and gone, and as usual there was drama and excitement of all kinds. Even a couple of staff members got into it.

The athletes had their ups and downs, notably a major down for Ohio State QB Cardale Jones who pulled his hamstring and is done for the remainder of the combine. Christian Hackenberg was terribly inaccurate during his throwing session, but did run a respectable 4.78 40-yard dash. Positively, Jeff Goff had a fantastic day throwing, as did Carson Wentz. Wentz also ran an impressive 4.77 40-yard dash, when you consider he measured in at 6’5 237 lbs. The latter two are considered the classes top QBs and probably top 10 picks.

The Wide Receivers…

The wide outs ran their 40’s today, and we had some surprises. Mike Mayock says this is the slowest group of WR’s we’ve maybe ever seen, and they are all “quicker than fast”. Laquon Treadwell didn’t run, but is still considered the top player at his position.

Here is the Top 10…plus the next two since they are very notable names.

Top10WR40s

Braxton Miller was probably Day 2 of the combine’s biggest surprise. While folks are still high on him, the Buckeyes converted QB was expected to run somewhere in the 4.3 range. His 4.5 flat (best) was disappointing to say the least. There was claims he ran a 4.36 as a QB for Ohio State, so after training so long as a wide receiver he would be even faster. That wasn’t the case, but his physicality and quickness are what make him a good WR anyway. He can be an NFL team’s number 2 WR one day soon. I see many first-down conversions in the future for this converted competitor.

Notre Dame’s Will Fuller unsurprisingly was among the events top performers. Impressively, he finished at the top medal standings.

TCU’s Josh Doctson is in the discussion as a top 3 pick at his position. His 40 time will definitely lower his draft stock, and now is a mid-to-late first round pick at best.

Posted in CFB, NFL

Fanpicks.com College Football Bowl Game Preview

BATTLEFROG FIESTA BOWL
Ohio State vs. Notre Dame

Fanpicks.com is proud to bring you the Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl game preview featuring Ohio State against Notre Dame. Another close scoring game… Notre Dame will go down to Ohio State… who will be victorious 28-27. Play the best fantasy college football contests at Fanpicks.com.

Ohio State ranked No. 7 and No. 8 Notre Dame were each only a few plays away from clinching a spot in the College Football Playoff but instead will have to be content with a New Year’s Six Bowl when they square off in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 1. The defending-champion Buckeyes were in the top four until a 17-14 home loss to Michigan State in the penultimate game of the regular season knocked them out of a spot in the Big Ten title game. The Fighting Irish spent a week in the top four as well but dropped after closing the campaign with a 38-36 setback at Stanford.

Notre Dame’s explosive offense averaged 34.8 points – 31st in the nation – despite making a change at quarterback and losing top rusher C.J. Prosise down the stretch. Prosise (ankle) could be back for the bowl game but will be going against an Ohio State defense that finished second in the nation while allowing opponents an average of 14 points. Buckeyes co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash is set to leave to take the head coaching job at Rutgers after the bowl game, but former NFL and college head coach Greg Schiano was brought in to ease the transition and will serve as the co-defensive coordinator moving forward.

The Fighting Irish and the Buckeyes both switched quarterbacks during the season, though Notre Dame’s change was injury related. Malik Zaire went down in the second game of the season at Virginia and sophomore DeShone Kizer stepped in to throw for 2,600 yards and 19 touchdowns while adding nine scores on the ground. Ohio State went back and forth between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett before settling on Barrett, who will get the starting nod in the Fiesta Bowl.

NOTRE DAME Season Overview (10-2): The Fighting Irish suffered their two losses by a total of four points on the road at No. 1 Clemson and No. 6 Stanford. “Our scout teams have done a great job all year,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told reporters. “We’re going to lean on them again one more time to provide us with the kind of look necessary to prepare our defense. But no, we know the challenge that Ohio State brings, and we’re going to have to do a great job of preparing our defense.” That defense allowed an average of 22.4 points in the regular season and was at its best against the pass, limiting opponents to 195.9 yards through the air.

OHIO STATE Season Overview (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten): Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott ran for 1,672 yards and 19 touchdowns but was critical of his usage after logging just 33 yards on 12 carries in the lone loss to Michigan State. Elliott bounced back with 214 yards and two scores the following week and figures to be a big part of the offense in the bowl game. Elliott is one of several Ohio State stars, including Jones and presumptive top-5 pick defensive lineman Joey Bosa, who could be headed for the NFL draft in the spring.

Posted in CFB