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Odds & Pick for Ohio State vs. Iowa College Basketball: Bank on Home Bounce-Back for the Hawkeyes

Odds & Pick for Ohio State vs. Iowa College Basketball: Bank on Home Bounce-Back for the Hawkeyes article feature image

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Garza (right) and Jack Nunge.

  • Two teams that are 7-3 in their last 10 games meet Thursday as Iowa hosts Ohio State for a Big Ten battle.
  • Iowa has been lagging lately while Ohio State has been surging -- does the betting value lie on the away team in this matchup?
  • Tanner McGrath breaks it down and shares his pick below.

Ohio State vs. Iowa Odds

Ohio State Odds +5.5
Iowa Odds -5.5
Moneyline +185 / -225
Over/Under 159.5
Time | TV Thursday, 7 p.m. ET | ESPN
Odds as of Wednesday night and via BetMGM.

No nights off in the Big Ten. 

The Ohio State Buckeyes are traveling to Iowa City on Thursday to play the Iowa Hawkeyes. Both of these teams are 7-3 in their last 10 games and have been exceedingly efficient on offense. This should be a fun battle. 

However, Iowa has been lagging lately while Ohio State has been surging. The public will be all over Ohio State in this matchup, and that’s precisely why I see value on the other side.

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Iowa’s Defensive Struggles

For how talented this team is, Iowa has a massive, overly evident weakness — its defense. 

Last Friday, the Hawkeyes allowed 80 points on 58 shots in a loss to Illinois. Iowa then followed up that performance by allowing 78 points on a mind-boggling 70 shots to a Michigan State team that ranks 13th in the Big Ten in offensive efficiency. 

Overall, Iowa is 11th in the Big Ten in defensive efficiency. How can a team so weak on defense win the Big Ten? 

The answer is simple — it can’t. 

Offensively, Iowa is a wagon. In fact, it’s currently ranked No. 1 in the country in offensive efficiency, per KenPom. But it’s incredibly difficult to win in this conference with a bad defense. 

And Iowa has been losing lately. The Hawkeyes are just 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS in its last three games. On the season, Iowa is just 3-3 in Quad 1 opportunities. Right now, it’s in third place in the conference and is projected as a three seed in the NCAA Tournament. 

Iowa is still a very dangerous team. When Luka Garza is rolling and the perimeter players are hitting their shots, the Hawkeyes are nearly impossible to keep up with. 

Ohio State has a lot on its plate tonight.

Ohio State’s Surge

However, the Buckeyes might be prepared to handle this meal. 

Chris Holtmann’s squad has been on fire lately. Ohio State has won nine of its last 12 games, are 8-4 in conference play and are now fourth in the Big Ten standings. Plus, the latest AP Poll has the Buckeyes ranked No. 7.

The Buckeyes are, somewhat quietly, currently projected to be a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. It’s 5-3 in Quad 1 opportunities, which makes it just one of five teams with five or more Quad 1 wins. 

Ohio State is an incredibly well-rounded team. It pairs an above-average offense with an above-average defense, as it’s currently ranked third in the Big Ten in offensive efficiency and fourth in defensive efficiency. 

The Buckeyes are led by the duo of E.J. Liddell and Duane Washington. The guard-center combo is scoring a combined 29.8 points per game this season. 

However, while Ohio State looks good on paper, I believe it’s currently overrated. I don’t believe the Buckeyes are a top-10 caliber team, and I don’t think they should receive a two-seed in March. 

But the Buckeyes could prove me very wrong with a road win Thursday.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

At the time of this writing, Iowa is receiving just 25% of the spread tickets. 

Fading the public is always a sharp play, and in big conferences it’s also profitable. Since 2005, power six conference teams receiving less than 25% of the spread tickets are 428-322-50 ATS, yielding a 10.9% return on investment. 

Ohio State is just 3-3-1 ATS on the road this season, while Iowa is 8-4 ATS at home. So, both the betting market and the betting trends indicate there is value with Iowa. 

A side note– the Over is worth a look here. The Over is 4-1-1 in Ohio State’s road games this season and it’s 10-5 in Iowa’s home games this season. However, at 158.5, the number is too high for me to touch. If this game starts slow and you can live bet the Over somewhere below 150, it might be worth playing. Iowa can get hot from 3 in a hurry, and therefore can score in bunches. 

But I digress. After a tough stretch, I’m banking on a home bounce-back for Iowa in this spot. I’m also fading Ohio State, because I believe it’s not as talented as it looks on paper. The Hawkeyes are going to overcome their defensive holes by riding the best offense in college basketball to a comfortable win. 

My play is Iowa -5, and I would bet it up to -5.5.

Pick: Iowa -5 (-110) | Play up to -5.5 (-110)

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