Buckeyes, Illini Battle in Nightcap of B1G Schedule Saturday
Sam Thompson
Sam Thompson is an Illinois native.

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Date: Feb. 15, 2014
Ohio State Buckeyes (19-6, 6-6) vs. the Illinois Fighting Illini (14-11, 3-9)
Site: State Farm Center (16,618)
Game Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Television: BTN
Talent: Brian Anderson (play-by-play)
Shon Morris (expert analysis)
Radio: OSU-IMG Sports Network (56 stations)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 112/XM 198
Local Radio: WBNS FM-97.1 AM-1460 Radio
Radio Talent: Paul Keels (play-by-play)
Ron Stokes (expert analysis)

Craft Among Senior CLASS Award Finalists
Aaron Craft was named a finalist for the 2014 Senior CLASS award Feb. 12. Fans have a vote in selecting the 2014 Senior CLASS Award winner in men's basketball at http://go.osu.edu/Vote4AC. Thirty men's basketball student-athletes were named candidates at the start of the season. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. Media, coaches and fans will select the winner, who will be announced at the 2014 Final Four. Craft, a two-time first team academic All-American, is the third Buckeye in the last four years to make the initial list of candidates. David Lighty (2011) and William Buford (2012) each advanced to make the final list of 10 finalists.

NABC Names Craft to 2014 Good Works Team
Aaron Craft was named one of five men's basketball student-athletes in NCAA Division I to the 2014 AllState Good Works Team. The group, along with 15 others from Division I and II in men's and women's basketball, will convene at the 2014 Final Four to be recognized for their career community service efforts. The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and Allstate Insurance Company announced the 202 nominees for the 2014 AllState NABC and WBCA Good Works Teams® Dec. 3. The award recognizes a select group of college basketball student-athletes who have made significant contributions to the greater good of their communities through volunteerism and civic service. In its second year, the AllState NABC and WBCA Good Works Teams® honor players at all levels of college basketball who represent the sport's finest in the areas of leadership and charitable achievements amongst their peers. The student-athletes nominated for this prestigious award embody the true spirit of teamwork and giving back.  

Craft Earns 3rd Career B1G POW, 2nd of 2014
Aaron Craft averaged 12.0 points while recording 10 assists and nine steals in a pair of wins last week. The Buckeyes downed No. 17 Iowa on the road and then dispatched Purdue at home last Saturday. Craft scored 17 points while handing out six assists and recording six steals at Iowa, the best single-game numbers in the Big Ten since 2001. Craft moved to No. 7 all-time in assists (648) in Big Ten history while also taking over the No. 1 spot in career steals (310) since the NCAA officially recognized steals in 1985-86. Craft has earned three career Big Ten POW honors and two this season.

Craft Makes Capital One All-District IV
For the third-consecutive year, Aaron Craft has qualified for Academic All-America consideration. He was named Capital One Academic All-District IV Jan. 30 and is on the ballot for the 2014 CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-America team. Craft is a two-time Capital One Academic All-American, winning as both a sophomore and junior. In 2013 he was named the Academic All-America of the year in men's basketball. Craft is Ohio State's only two-time Academic All-American. There have been just three Big Ten student athletes in men's basketball to be named a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-American.

Three-Time Big Ten Academic All-Americans
Men's Basketball
Steve Grote, MICH, 1975-76-77
Shon Morris, NU, 1986-87-88
Chris Hill, MSU, 2004-05-06

Vote Thad Matta
After the first round of the third annual Coaches' Charity Challenge, head coach Thad Matta is leading all coaches with 35 percent of votes and a 17-point percentage lead over Matt Painter of Purdue. With 48 coaches participating at the start, the field is now set at 24 and votes have been reset to zero. For the next three weeks, fans can vote once a day at VoteCoachMatta.com to help Matta advance to the round of 16.  The Coaches' Charity Challenge is a fan-vote contest that will run for 10 weeks in a tournament-style format. Contributions from the contest have exceeded 300,000. Matta won the challenge in 2012 and 2013 earning 100,000 for the Ronald McDonald House of Charities of Central Ohio. He is once again supporting RMHC.        

The Illinois Series
Illinois leads the all-time series vs. Ohio State 101-67. The Illini own a 60-23 record in Champaign. Ohio State is 24-11 all-time when ranked in games vs. Illinois. In the last 16 games in which the Buckeyes have been ranked in games vs. Illinoi, Ohio State has won 14 times. The Buckeyes have won eight of the last 10 meetings in the series and have split the last four meetings at the State Farm Center. Ohio State senior Aaron Craft leads Ohio State in scoring vs. Illinois with an average of 10.9 ppg. in seven career meetings. Craft is shooting nearly 50 percent from the field (27-55) and 90 percent from the foul line (17-19). Classmate and Illinois native Lenzelle Smith Jr. averages 7.7 points and a team high 4.5 rebounds vs. Illinois. Thad Matta teams are 13-5 vs. Illinois.  

A Look at the Illini
Illinois started the non-conference portion of the schedule with an 11-2 record. The Illini then started league play 2-0 with wins vs. Indiana and Penn State. Since then, Illinois is 1-9 vs. Big Ten competition. Ohio State won the earlier meeting with the Illini 62-55 in Columbus Jan. 23. Rayvonte Rice leads Illinois in scoring with 16.8 points per game. Tracy Abrams (11.1 ppg.) and Joseph Bertrand (10.4 ppg.) also contribute double figures. Rice also tops the squad in rebounds with 6.0 per game.  

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 761-678 against current league members. Thad Matta, in 14 seasons as a head coach, owns an overall record of 139-58 vs. league members, including a mark of 136-56 while coaching the Buckeyes.

For more on the Buckeyes click on the Ohio State Notes link above.