College Basketball Odds, Pick for Ohio State vs Wisconsin
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images). Pictured: AJ Storr.
Ohio State vs Wisconsin Odds
The Wisconsin Badgers and Ohio State Buckeyes could desperately use wins for vastly different reasons. While Wisconsin has firmly cemented its ticket to the Big Dance, its seed line has taken a major hit over the past couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, for a second straight year, Ohio State has suffered another collapse, which has the Buckeyes on the outside looking in of the NCAA Tournament.
Here's college basketball odds and a pick for Ohio State vs. Wisconsin.
The Chris Holtmann era in Columbus is edging toward an inauspicious ending.
After another terrible January, Ohio State is far out of NCAA Tournament talk. Pulling off a huge upset win in Madison over Wisconsin is the first step to getting on the tournament radar again — plus, a last-ditch effort to save Holtmann's job.
The Buckeyes' offense ranks 42nd in offensive efficiency. That's fairly solid for a team that's struggled heavily of late. However, the offense flips the switch from solid to bad quickly, hinging on strong scoring games from sophomore Bruce Thornton and Roddy Gayle Jr. While both have plenty of shot-creation and talent, shooting below 42% from the field and 30% from 3 won't get the job done. Thornton helped Ohio State break the losing streak, putting on his Superman cape and beating Maryland in overtime.
The elder statesman of the bunch, Jamison Battle is the most underrated aspect of the Buckeyes' offense. He's the only reliable shooter in the starting five — hitting at 40% from deep, while the other four starters shoot worse than 32% from 3. Battle makes the defense respect the perimeter and not pack the defense in and sell out on drives, so he is a huge key in this one.
While Wisconsin's defense looks inconsistent, Ohio State's defense is significantly worse. The Buckeyes rank a ghastly 126th in defensive efficiency. Similar to its foe, Ohio State's opponents shoot over 36% from 3.
Something seemed strange about Wisconsin's offense magically morphing into a top-five offense in America of an efficiency basis — at least that's where Wisconsin sat entering play Feb. 1 at Nebraska.
In that game, Wisconsin blew an 18-point lead on the road, and now it's a full-on tailspin to a four-game losing slide. That streak includes losses against Michigan and Rutgers — two non-NCAA Tournament teams.
The biggest concern is Wisconsin's sudden drop in offensive play, logging less than one point per possession in all four games. The Badgers' defense dealt with some early struggles, which made the offensive improvements even more stark.
AJ Storr is arguably the biggest reason for Wisconsin's elite offense, and his struggles coincide with the team's struggles. The 6-foot-7 Storr shot 4-of-15 in a loss against Purdue and 5-of-16 on Saturday against Rutgers. Wisconsin has one perimeter shot-creator, and that's Storr. The offensive success hinges on him scoring efficiently.
Additionally, Wisconsin's biggest issue on defense is stopping the 3-point shot, allowing 36% shooting on 3s. That's the program's worst number since the first two years of Gard's time as the head coach in Madison. Wisconsin needs to shore up the perimeter defense moving forward.
The X-Factor for the Badgers is 7-footer Steven Crowl. The senior big man scored fewer than 10 points in all four losses. He's another vital piece for Wisconsin, and he needs a better performance Tuesday. Defending Crowl is a tough task since he's agile for his size and shoots it at 46% from 3.
I've discussed the defensive obstacles of Ohio State and Wisconsin at length. I'm a big fan of snagging the over at 139.5. We'll see a game finishing in the 70-plus range on both sides, which puts real value on the total.
Even if Wisconsin finds some spark on defense, I could see the offense finding a groove and dropping 80 on a poor Ohio State defense. I see multiple angles for the number here.