Villanova's win served as the sports appetizer for a city absolutely whipped into a frenzy, with fans lined up hours before kickoff around the block to get into sports bars to watch the Eagles play the New England Patriots.
Mikal Bridges, who scored 17 points, hit a 3 with 2:22 left for a 21-point lead that seemed to serve as the cue for fans to turn their full attention toward the Super Bowl. They put on dog masks (an Eagles rallying symbol) and chanted “We Want Brady!”
For about 25 minutes, the Pirates (17-6, 6-4) gave the Wildcats a serious scare. The Pirates played the first half like the team that spent most of the season in the AP Top 25 and reached as high as No. 13.
Seton Hall shot 49% from the floor and Angel Delgado hurt Villanova inside with 10 points and six rebounds. Delgado finished with 18 points and Desi Rodriguez had 20.
The Buckeyes, playing without suspended guard Kam Williams, overcame an Illinois lead to tie the score at the 5-minute mark. But they wouldn't get the game in hand until Kaleb Wesson grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up with 48 seconds left. That gave the Buckeyes a 72-67 lead, and any momentum Illinois had was gone for good.
Jae'Sean Tate scored 11 points for the Buckeyes (20-5, 11-1), who have won three straight and 10 of their last 11. They move on to a showdown with No. 3 Purdue on Wednesday to determine first place in the Big Ten.
Bates-Diop had 17 of his points in the first half — 11 straight in one stretch — when Ohio State had to dig its way out of a 15-point hole. He finished with his 10th double-double of the season.
Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann, in his first year at Ohio State after a successful run at Butler, now has won 20 or more games in each of his last five full years as a head coach.
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for Illinois (12-12, 2-9). The Illini have yet to win a game on the road this season.
Mark Alstork paced Illinois with 19 points, and Trent Frazier chipped in 12.
No. 9 UCLA at USC 6 p.m.