College Basketball Odds, Pick and Preview for Ohio State vs. Minnesota (Thursday, January 27)

College Basketball Odds, Pick and Preview for Ohio State vs. Minnesota (Thursday, January 27) article feature image

John Autey / MediaNews Group / St. Paul Pioneer Press via Getty Images. Pictured: Payton Willis (left), Luke Loewe (center), and Jamison Battle (right).

  • A depleted Minnesota Golden Gophers squad faces one of the Big Ten's best in the Ohio State Buckeyes on Thursday night.
  • The Golden Gophers have several players who are either doubtful or questionable, so paying attention to the injury report is crucial.
  • Tanner McGrath breaks down and bets this Big Ten battle below.

Ohio State vs. Minnesota Odds

Thursday, Jan. 27
8 p.m. ET
Ohio State Odds
-110o / -110u
Minnesota Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

As Big Ten play rolls on, we should get another competitive matchup in this Thursday night affair.

At 5-2 in conference play, Ohio State is in the top tier of the Big Ten. Like most Chris Holtmann-led teams, the Buckeyes are deadly offensively.

Meanwhile, Minnesota has been chaotic. After a coaching change and a complete overhaul of the roster in the offseason, Minnesota has picked up some huge wins and some tough losses.

Most recently, the Golden Gophers snapped a four-game losing streak by beating Rutgers with two of their best players on the COVID-19 list.

Minnesota is catching over six points at home in this matchup. So, can the Gophers cause more chaos?

Ohio State Buckeyes

There's a lot of notable news and games in the Big Ten, and it seems that OSU has gone under the radar a bit. The 5-2 Buckeyes are tied in the loss column with Illinois and Michigan State.

The Buckeyes also have some huge wins, including over Duke, Seton Hall, and Wisconsin.

But OSU has been quiet recently. Wins over Northwestern and Penn State are paired with losses to Indiana and Wisconsin — basically par for the course. Plus, the Buckeyes had their Nebraska game postponed due to COVID-19 issues in the Cornhuskers program.

So, the last time the Buckeyes played was 11 days ago against… IUPUI?

I'm unsure why OSU played IUPUI in the middle of January, but the Buckeyes pulled out an 83-37 win, covering the 34-point spread in the process.

So, if you've forgotten about Ohio State, let's provide an update on the state of the Buckeyes.

Ohio State may play slow (282nd in average offensive possession length), but it's ruthlessly efficient on the offensive end. The Buckeyes are shooting 56% from inside the arc and 38% from 3, adding up to the 10th-best eFG% in the nation.

Ohio State also gets it done in every possible situation. The Buckeyes rank above the 80th percentile of D-I teams in spot-up PPP, post-up PPP, transition PPP, and pick-and-roll PPP.

The Buckeyes' heat map also shows the versatility of this offense — they will kill opponents from anywhere.

Image credit: CBB ANALYTICS.

E.J. Liddell is the straw that stirs the drink. He's dropping nearly 20 points per game with a 57 eFG% and is uber-efficient in every situation (i.e. spot-up, post-up, transition, PnR).

He's also a true stretch four who will pull up from anywhere. You can see his shot chart looks very similar to his team's, attesting to his impact on the offense.

Image credit: CBB ANALYTICS.

Liddell also is a monstrous interior defender, ranking top-50 in block rate.

Generally, Ohio State's defense is lackluster. The perimeter defense could be better (290th in defensive turnover rate, 200th in spot-up PPP allowed). But with Liddell anchoring the interior, Ohio State's top-50 nationally in defensive eFG%.

Put the offense and defense together, and OSU looks like the best team in the Big Ten.

Image credit: CBB ANALYTICS.

However, there are other important contributors outside of Liddell. I won't dive deep for the sake of brevity, but I'd keep my eye on:

  • Senior big man Kyle Young (8.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 124.1 ORtg)
  • Senior center Zed Key (9.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 115.4 ORtg)
  • Freshman guard Malaki Branham (10 PPG, 23.6 shot%, 106.2 ORtg)

Minnesota Golden Gophers

So, Minnesota has been chaotic.

If you want more chaos — I have no idea who will be available for this game due to COVID-19 and other issues. This is what I've found on the most recent injury report:

  • Eric Curry: Doubtful Thursday (Ankle)
  • Eylijah Stevens: Doubtful Thursday (Undisclosed)
  • Jamison Battle: Questionable Thursday (Undisclosed)
  • Will Ramberg: Questionable Thursday (Hand)

Battle, Curry, and Stevens are three of the four highest scorers on the team. Those three combine for almost 40 points per game.

Yet, without them, Payton Willis dropped 34 in a winning effort over Rutgers. The Golden Gophers dressed seven total for that game and played their two bench players just three minutes each.

It was an inspired effort by Minnesota but an equally embarrassing one by Rutgers.

Luke Loewe and Payton Willis have a combined 42 points and 10 assists – Minnesota has 57 points total. They’re the only two starters playing for the Gophers. You’ll figure it out eventually, Rutgers!

— Jim Root (@2ndChancePoints) January 22, 2022

Minnesota has had some inspired efforts this season. The Gophers also take care of the ball well (14th in offensive turnover rate) and don't foul (17th in opponent free-throw rate).

But the team is super top-heavy and has almost no depth. When Willis or one of the other top-three scorers have a great shooting night, Minnesota can keep up with anyone.

I'd say Minnesota is likely due for some negative regression. The Golden Gophers are 23rd in 3-point defense despite being sub-250 in both 2-point defense and defensive turnover rate.

ShotQuality's metrics also call for Minnesota to see negative regression. Based on the quality of shots taken and allowed, SQ projects Minnesota's record should be 9-7 instead of 11-5.

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Ohio State vs. Minnesota Betting Pick

I'm heavily leaning Minnesota in this spot.

Ohio State hasn't played a real game in 13 games (I am not counting IUPUI as a competitive basketball game). The Buckeyes could be shaking off some rust.

Plus, playing a home dog of more than six points is always a sharp play.

However, the injury report is incredibly concerning. Minnesota could be exhausted following the most recent effort, and we still don't know who is playing.

If Curry, Stevens, and Battle are all somehow in for Thursday night's matchup, I would play Minnesota. However, I highly doubt that is the case.

I'll most likely pass on this impossible-to-predict affair

Pick: Pass (Minnesota +6.5 if Curry, Stevens & Battle All Play)

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