Ohio State vs. Minnesota NCAA Basketball Preview and Best Bet

Jamison Battle #10 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

Having missed a few conference games, No. 16 Ohio State looks to stay with all the two-loss teams in the Big Ten when they visit Minnesota, looking to avoid a third setback.

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Thursday, January 27, 2022 – 08:00 PM EST at Williams Arena

The top of the Big Ten Conference is starting to look like that Virginia state highway that had miles of cars with four teams having two setbacks and two more clubs with three losses. Once we get into February, maybe some of this congestion will clear out of the way out and Ohio State hopes to be only of clubs near the top.

The Buckeyes are 5-2 (3-4 ATS) in the conference and missed several games being off from Dec. 13 thru Jan. 1. Coach Chris Holtmann and his club have tried to weather the virus situation as best as possible, even now they’ve had nine days between games which breaks down continuity.

Minnesota started the season amazingly well at 10-1 under first-year coach Ben Johnson. Forget about who they played, Johnson saw 12 players from last year’s squad leave the program in various ways and had almost no base to work with. The Golden Gophers are 2-5 (3-4 ATS) in Big Ten battles, which is not bad considering where they started from.

The betting odds at Caesars have Ohio State a 6.5-point favorite and it’s of note to share the Buckeyes are just 3-4 and 2-5 ATS outside of Columbus.

Ohio State Needs to Make a Statement

With a 2-2 and 1-3 ATS mark on the Big Ten road, Ohio State (12-4, 7-9 ATS) has to do what a team that wants to, at a minimum, reach the Sweet 16 in later March does, they win games. Granted, few opponents will leave Madison or Bloomington with victories in almost any season, but the best ones find a way.

Minnesota will probably have a depleted roster again tonight, however, as Rutgers just found out last Saturday, winning at “The Barn” is never simple, you have to earn it.

That is Holtmann’s job this evening, having E.J. Liddell and the rest of the Buckeyes locked in like they’re playing a top team, not a struggling one.

Ball movement will be important for a team that shoots a fine percentage of 38 percent from behind the arc to make sure all attempts are good looks while taking advantage of the Gophers playing in the paint for easy buckets at the same time.

Minnesota Looks to Compete, Steal One Late

Like every sector of life, the virus will eventually get you if you are out in public and Minnesota’s (11-5, 8-8 ATS) basketball program was hit recently. After almost upsetting Michigan State at East Lansing, falling by two points as 11.5-point underdogs, and battling back from a 22-point deficit to Iowa to get within three with 90 seconds remaining, the Gophers lost several players including three starters and could not play Penn State. In spite of barely fielding a team, they gutted out a 68-65 win over Rutgers at Williams Arena.

As of this morning, all five of Minnesota’s top five scorers could be out, though as many as three could suit up, with their actual condition unknown for playing. But don’t be fooled, Johnson came back to this program (former player and assistant), not to make excuses because of adversity, rather to win and win big down the line.

Though limited on talent, Johnson’s club plays with purpose and no matter the situation these Golden Gophers are tenacious and will work the ball for good shots, and provide a complete effort, no matter the result.

What is the Best Side to Be On?

For NCAA Basketball picks, all indications favor Ohio State to win and cover. The Buckeyes opened at -4 at all sportsbooks and were moved to the correct number of -6.5.

Yet, various power ratings have this matchup close to the original number of plus/minus 4 and Minnesota has covered four in a row over Ohio State and is a solid 10-7 SU and ATS at home versus the Buckeyes over the years. Additionally, Ohio State is off a fill-in game with IUPUI which they won 83-37 and they are 2-9 ATS  in road games after a combined score of 125 points or less. Maybe, the Golden Gophers can pull this off.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Minnesota +6.5 (-110) at Caesars