Ohio State vs. Wisconsin NCAA Basketball Preview and Best Bet

Johnny Davis #1 of the Wisconsin Badgers grabs a rebound. David Becker/Getty Images/AFP.

Though it is only the first part of January, this Big Ten battle between No. 16 Ohio State and No. 13 Wisconsin could have the rest of the season meaning to both teams.

Directly behind Michigan State and Illinois, the last two Big Ten clubs without a conference blemish, are Ohio State and Wisconsin, with a single setback. They met in their first Big Ten contest 33 days ago and the Buckeyes battered the Badgers 73-55 in Columbus as five-point favorites at the top-rated sportsbooks.

Since then, Ohio State has dropped away games to Florida and at Indiana and is 3-3 and 2-4 ATS away from home.

A convincing case could be made that the beat down by the Buckeyes awoke Wisconsin and they’ve rattled off five wins since.

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Wisconsin Badgers

Thursday, January 13, 2022 – 07:00 PM EST at Kohl Center

BetRivers and other sportsbooks like them have made Whisky a 3.5-point home favorite. Wisconsin is 13-7 SU over Ohio State in their last get-togethers in Madison, yet, they are only 10-10 ATS.

Ohio State Might Have Found Key Second Scoring Option

With the coach Chris Holtmann returning to the bench after missing Sunday’s victory and non-cover versus Northwestern, he’s been cleared from a positive virus test.

Holtmann will no doubt be pleased to be a part of such an important road test for his club and probably happy about another development. Outside of forward E.J. Liddell, there has not been a reliable or consistent scoring option for Ohio State. Zed Key, Kyle Young, and Justin Ahrens have all had their moments, however, those have popped up organically, not necessarily when needed.

Enter freshman guard Malaki Branham, who has tallied 35, 13, and 24 points in a trio of 2022 assignments to take over the team’s second-leading point producer. What you notice is when the ball comes to him now, he wants it and expects to score in some manner. This is what the Buckeyes need going forward and Branham has also snagged 15 boards in the process.

Wisconsin Leaning on J.D.

Though a good player as a freshman last year, Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis has not only blossomed in his second season, he’s burst onto the scene like a flower that is twice its normal size having gotten too much fertilizer.

Davis is averaging 22.7 points a game, over 7 rebounds, and is making every clutch basket the Badgers have required. He’s gone from likely coach Greg Gard’s third option on offense to a player of the year candidate in two months.

The confidence which he plays with is a joy to watch and his teammates are playing more fearlessly themselves knowing if they don’t score, Davis could rebound and cover up for their miss.

We should be clear, Wisconsin is not a good shooting team at only 41.7%. So how does this team have a 13-2 (9-5-1 ATS) record?

Like all Badgers teams over the past 20+ years, they are an acquired taste, you have to watch them to appreciate. They take care of the ball (+4 turnover margin) and make their free throws (76.4%). Though Wisconsin teams are good defensively, they are far from elite, but they don’t commit silly fouls sending opposing teams to the line for dead ballpoints.

What Is the Best Side to Be On?

For college basketball picks, there is every reason to think this will be a close, hard-fought physical Big Ten rumble.

This has the makings of a five-point game either way until the last two minutes, maybe less. One should not ignore Ohio State is bedrock solid 11-5 ATS on the road versus foes who have a winning home record. Nor should anyone discount Wisconsin is 8-3 ATS facing squads that win at least 60% of their games.

When it comes down to it, the Kohl Center is a tough place to win for visitors and the favorite in this series is on a 14-6 ATS run. With Bucky Badger home and 7-1 ATS off a spread winner, it’s Whisky for the win and cover.

NCAAB Pick: Wisconsin -3.5 (-110) at BetRivers