Northwestern vs Ohio State Odds & Picks: Bet Thursday’s Underdog?
Pictured: Boo Buie #0 of the Northwestern Wildcats. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
Northwestern vs Ohio State Odds
-115o / -105u
|Ohio State Odds|
-115o / -105u
On Thursday night, the Northwestern Wildcats will head to Columbus to battle the Ohio State Buckeyes for their second meeting this season. Ohio State won the 73-57 in Evanston in early January, but a lot has changed since then.
Following the win over Northwestern, Ohio State was 10-3. However, Ohio State has since lost nine of its past 10 games, including a 77-69 defeat on Saturday to rival Michigan. The Buckeyes are in 13th place in the Big Ten.
Northwestern is 16-7 and 7-5 in the Big Ten. The Wildcats have won four of their past six games. On Sunday, the Wildcats beat Wisconsin 54-52, claiming their first win in Madison since the 1995-96 season.
Including the first meeting this season, Ohio State has won six of the past nine meetings between these teams. However, in this matchup, there may be value on the underdog.
Northwestern’s style of play isn’t always pretty, but it has been effective this season. Northwestern is 34th in adjusted defensive efficiency. It allows just 62 points per game and ranks 20th nationally in scoring defense. That figure is aided by the slow pace Northwestern plays at as it ranks 270th in adjusted tempo.
The question for the Wildcats is usually whether they can score enough to supplement their strong defense. They average 68.3 points per game, which ranks 263rd nationally. The bulk of that production comes from guards Boo Buie and Chase Audige.
Buie averages 16.1 points and 4.5 assists, while Audige average 15.3 points and three assists per game. They are not great 3-point shooters — 29% and 34% — but both are shooting over 85% at the foul line.
Northwestern averages just 10.3 turnovers per game, 11th fewest in the country. The Wildcats are +4.6 in turnover margin and force eight steals per game. Audige averages 2.5 steals per game and leads the Big Ten.
Despite Ohio State’s recent struggles, it is still an advanced metrics darling. It ranks 15th in adjusted offensive efficiency. Forward Brice Sensabaugh has been an efficient source of offense this year.
The freshman is averaging is 17.3 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field and 47% from three. Head coach Chris Holtmann brought Sensabaugh off the bench last game so it bears watching to see if that continues.
Forward Justice Sueing is averaging 12.4 points and 4.8 rebounds while forward Zed Key is averaging 11.6 points and 7.7 rebounds. In addition to Sensabaugh, the Buckeyes have a pair of knockdown shooters in Sean McNeil (38% from 3) and freshman Bruce Thornton (39% from 3). Thornton broke out of a slump with 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting against Michigan.
Ohio State is 30th in 3-point shooting and it may want to lean into the 3 more often. It is 314th nationally in 3-point attempts and 17th in 2-point attempts. However, Ohio State is 237th in 2-point field goal percentage. Struggles inside the arc have caused the offense to bog down lately. Ohio State is still averaging 75.6 points per game, but it has been held under 70 points in seven of its past 10 games.
At the other end, the Buckeyes have not gotten many stops. They are 87th in adjusted defensive efficiency and 139th in defensive rating. Over their past five games, the Buckeyes are allowing 75 points per game.
Northwestern vs Ohio State Betting Pick
On paper, this matchup pits an Ohio State team ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring offense and 10th in scoring defense against a Northwestern side that ranks 10th in scoring offense and third in scoring defense. It sounds even, but Ohio State won the first meeting by 16 points.
However, the difference in that game was a 20-2 Ohio State run in the first half. Northwestern also didn’t help itself by shooting 28% from the field. A better shooting effort should give Northwestern a better chance of evening the season series. However, this game will be about pace.
If Northwestern can slow the game to its preferred tempo and keep the game in the 50s or 60s, it will have a good chance of covering and winning outright. A game in the 70s would favor the Buckeyes. However, given that Ohio State has not been in peak form lately, I am inclined to take the points with the team that has been playing better of late.
Pick: Northwestern +5.5
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