College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for Iowa vs. Ohio State (Thursday, February 3)
Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Keegan Murray.
Editors Note: Per Iowa Men’s Basketball (@IowaHoops) via Twitter, Thursday’s game against Ohio State has been postponed due to inclement weather.
Iowa vs. Ohio State
Two of the Big Ten’s finest are set to square off Thursday, as Keegan Murray and the Iowa Hawkeyes travel to Columbus, where E.J. Liddell and the Ohio State Buckeyes will be ready and waiting.
The Hawkeyes enter this game on a two-game losing streak, and their latest loss was a rare occasion in which Iowa was simply outscored and outhustled. Penn State did a great job on the boards while also limiting Murray for the duration of the game.
A bounce-back performance from one of the top scorers in the nation is something we can capitalize on.
Ohio State had its hearts ripped out as in its last game. The Buckeyes battled back from down 19 against Purdue, and Liddell sparked his team late by hitting multiple 3s. But it didn’t matter in the end, as the Buckeyes would ultimately go down by a game-winning 3-pointer from Jaden Ivey.
Though the loss was a bit deflating, the late offensive push is an encouraging sign that should carry over to this matchup.
Look For Iowa to Establish Its Pace
The Hawkeyes are the seventh-highest scoring offense in the country, and that is not because they are lights-out from the field. Iowa sits only 98th in effective field goal percentage, but it’s eighth in the tempo.
That tempo is something this offense thrives on, as it’s filled with athletic forwards who can knock down shots from any distance.
Speaking of athletic forwards who can score, Murray is the motor of this Hawkeye team. He is certainly capitalizing on the Hawkeyes’ increase in possessions, as he’s the fifth-leading scorer in the country, averaging over 22 points per game on over 15 attempts.
Murray had a very unusual performance against Penn State, as the Nittany Lions shut him out in the first half. However, he rebounded in a big way in the second half, dropping all of his 21 points after the break and eventually helping to force overtime with a tip-in as time expired.
That kind of hot streak is something that can carry over for a shooter of his caliber, and I expect him to get going early and often in this matchup.
Pushing the pace is not only advantageous to Iowa because it gets its offense in a rhythm, but it could disrupt Ohio State’s flow on both ends of the floor. The Buckeyes’ tempo is a complete contrast to Iowa’s, as they sit 301st in the nation.
Expect Liddell and Branham to Thrive in Transition
We already know the Hawkeyes will be upping the tempo in this matchup, but the Buckeyes have the offensive capability to find success while playing faster than usual.
The Iowa pace is created through a lot of early jump shots on the offensive end, and it’s the missed jumpers that will aid the Buckeyes in putting up points. In addition, jump shots often cause long rebounds, which Ohio State can turn into transition opportunities.
OSU has two players who could be deadly in those transition chances.
The expansion and execution of Liddell’s range are key to the jump his game has taken this year. He’s not only challenging to stop inside, but he’s now also a real threat from behind the arc. Liddell has made nearly 40% of his 3-point attempts this season, which is on an increased output of four attempts per game.
As a result, Liddell should have the opportunity to get open looks from deep as he trails his teammates in transition. His teammate, Malaki Branham, will have similar opportunities, as he has shown his range this season, shooting 39% from beyond the arc.
Iowa vs. Ohio State Betting Pick
This matchup has all the makings of a shootout, as it will be beneficial for the Buckeyes to run with the Hawkeyes in this matchup.
I’m expecting Murray and Liddell to be big factors on the scoreboard, and for that reason, I’ll be on the over.