In what could be an elimination game and squash the hopes of a Big Ten regular season title for the loser, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Iowa Hawkeyes collide in a top 10 battle on Thursday’s NCAA basketball odds card.
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Iowa Hawkeyes
at Carver-Hawkeye Arena
It won’t be easy for either Ohio State or Iowa to catch Michigan at the top of the conference race, with Illinois also blocking their paths. It will go from ‘not so easy’ to ‘incredibly difficult’ for the loser in this matchup between the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes. Ohio State (8-4) and Iowa (7-3) are currently tied for third in the Big Ten, each sitting 1½-games behind the Wolverines. Unless a schedule change is forthcoming, Michigan is going to spend almost three weeks sitting idle, giving the No. 7 Buckeyes and No. 8 Hawkeyes a chance to inch a little closer and ratchet up the pressure on the 4th-ranked Wolverines.
Home Teams 7-1 Straight Up & ATS Last 8 Meetings
The first of two scheduled meetings between the old rivals, Iowa making its return visit to Columbus to face Ohio State on February 28. The prime-time clash in Iowa City can be seen on ESPN, and William Hill is requiring Hawkeye bettors to give up 5½ with 159 for the total.
It has been an evenly-played series over the years, Iowa owning a slight 79-76 advantage overall, and winning 51 of the 76 matchups in Iowa City in what has been a rivalry dominated by the home teams. Of the last eight meetings, home team has won and covered the spread in seven of them. The only exception in that span was a 2018 matchup at Carver-Hawkeye Arena where the Buckeyes posted a 92-81 decision as 1½-point favorites.
Last year’s lone encounter also took place on the Hawkeyes’ home floor where Iowa came away with an 85-76 triumph giving up 1½. The Hawkeyes led wire-to-wire, thanks to Ohio State coming out flat to start the game and managing just one 3-pointer in the first 5:40. Luka Garza led both sides with 24 points, and Iowa shot nearly 56% for the evening. The final skipped past a 144-point total with about 2½ minutes remaining on the clock.
Buckeyes Have Cashed Last 3 B1G Road Contests
Chris Holtmann brings his Buckeyes into the contest hoping to extend a pair of 3-game streaks. Ohio State has won its last three, covering the numbers at sports betting outlets in two of those.
The Buckeyes have also turned around their Big Ten road woes by winning the last three away from Columbus, and covering each of those as the underdogs. They began the conference schedule by dropping their first three away tilts, and failing to beat the odds in any of those defeats.
Ohio State spent last week at home felling a couple other State U’s, the Spartans and Nittany Lions. The Buckeyes had to sweat out the win over Penn State, blowing a couple of 11-point first half leads and needing late free throws to secure an 83-79 victory. They had a much easier time with Michigan State in a 79-62 final, holding the Spartans scoreless over the final 3+ minutes to cover the -5½ line. Sophomore EJ Liddell had at least 20 points in each win, and has reached that plateau in four of his last five games.
Garza Reaches 2K Career Points in Latest Iowa Win
Fran McCaffrey’s cagers have hit a bit of a rough patch, especially where college basketball bettors are concerned. The Hawkeyes have dropped two of their last three outright, and failed to cover any of those games. The dry spell followed a 3-game stretch of chalk victories, and the problem has been on the offensive end. They still rank second in the nation averaging 89.4 PPG, but that clip has been 76 PPG the last three while the shooting is off about five points.
After losing to Indiana and at Illinois, the Hawkeyes snapped the mini-skid Tuesday night with an 84-78 win at home over Michigan State. The Spartans appeared poised to pull off the upset early as 9-point underdogs before Garza & Co. got things together. Garza had a nice 27-point, 12-board evening, but was the lone Iowa starter in double figures and the Hawkeyes needed help off the bench from Jack Nunge and Joe Toussaint.
Jordan Bohanon is the key player for Iowa in this one. The senior was having a good run for a while there, but has gone quiet in the last three games. Not calling for an outright upset, but definitely taking the Buckeyes plus the points with my free college basketball pick.
NCAAB Pick: Ohio State +5½ (-110) at William Hill