INDIANAPOLIS — Kofi Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu both scored 16 points, both grabbed nine rebounds and both made key plays in overtime to give No. 3 Illinois a 91-88 victory over No. 9 Ohio State on Sunday for its first Big Ten Tournament title since 2005.
Minutes after the game, Illini join Gonzaga, Baylor and Michigan as No. 1 seeds for the NCAA Tournament.
Cockburn made the go-ahead free throw with 1:39 to play, Dosunmu made a 15-footer with 50 seconds to go and the Illini (23-6) sealed it at the free-throw line. Illinois has won seven straight overall, six in a row over top-10 foes and 14 of its last 15 overall to claim the conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
At times, Illinois appeared to be in complete control, but Ohio State (21-9) refused to give in to the weariness of playing four games in four days. Instead, the Buckeyes constantly fought back.
Duane Washington Jr. had a career-high 32 points and Justice Sueing added 22 for the Buckeyes.
The Fighting Illini now have six wins over AP top-10 teams this season, tied for the most in a season in Big Ten history.
Michigan narrowly missed having their highest regular-season winning percentage ever after a one-point loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament to finish 20-4. It’s the Wolverines first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament since 1993.
Gonzaga is the fifth team to enter the NCAA Tournament undefeated since Indiana’s perfect season in 1975-76. They’re also the first team to go wire-to-wire as AP’s No. 1 since unbeaten Kentucky in 2014-15.
Baylor had been on Gonzaga’s heels all season, having lost just one game before dropping their second to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament. The Bears are the No. 1 seed in the men’s tournament for the first time in their history.