COLUMBUS — Illinois will be limping into the Big Ten tournament.
After winning five straight and six of seven, the Illini will enter Thursday’s tournament at the United Center with back-to-back losses.
They finished the regular season with a 68-55 whimper at No. 14 Ohio State (23-7, 13-5) on Sunday afternoon.
That makes the Illini a No. 8 seed that will face No. 9 Minnesota in the tournament’s tipoff on Thursday morning.
The Illini were without reserve Joe Bertrand, who missed the game with a shoulder injury and made the team thin at the guard position.
Illinois shot just 35.2 percent against the Buckeyes, a game after shooting only 28.6 percent in a loss at Iowa on Tuesday.
With the victory, the Buckeyes will share a portion of the Big Ten regular-season title as long as Michigan beats Indiana later in the afternoon. Michigan State and Michigan could also claim the honor in a four-way tie.
Without Bertrand – and with several players in foul trouble — coach John Groce turned to Devin Langford and Myke Henry early.
Langford, who averages just four minutes and less than a point per game, finished scoreless. Henry finished with seven points and eight rebounds.
The Illini were led by 21 points from Brandon Paul.
Illinois trailed 63-55 but Lenzelle Smith, Jr., drove to the hoop, making the basket, drawing the foul and completing the three-point play with 1 minute remaining.