Sports can be a cruel mistress for some programs because when it rains, it pours. That was the motto for the Buckeyes season this year, ranking dead last in Luck per Kenpom. Now needing to win out just to make it to March Madness, the Buckeyes must get past the Iowa Hawkeyes as a +2 underdog. With Ohio State back into productive form after their midseason woes, my prediction is that we see a plethora of points from both ends to cash the over.
Ohio State Vs. Iowa Prediction
The injury luck cannot be overstated enough as it seemed Ohio State was never able to generate any sort of consistency with players in and out of their lineup. It’s not as if those have subsided either, playing without Zed Key as he was never able to get back to 100%. That makes their win against Wisconsin that much more impressive, sacrificing size while trying to defend the Badgers Tyler Wahl in their inside-out approach.
Lucky for the Buckeyes, Iowa does not run much bigger than what they just handled in a true big man. Instead, Iowa mirrors Ohio State’s lineup as they maintain a large size with multiple productive forwards. This keeps the pace of play for Iowa in a constant fast paced flux, pushing the ball up the court at one of the fastest tempos in the nation. They rank 53rd in Adjusted Tempo, a sharp contrast to the Buckeyes 228th metric per Kenpom.
Don’t be deterred by Ohio State’s sluggish pace as Iowa will force them to ramp it up. Especially if they get off to a sluggish start with no rest, needing to stay within scoring pace as their postseason hopes are on the line. This bodes well for Brice Sensabaugh who plays as a fullback when the ball is in his hands. Constantly slashing to the rim, using his size to either draw contact or shove off for a high-quality finish.
As for Iowa, it should be business as usual as their identity is built around pushing the pace and abusing the interior. They run as one of the most efficient offenses in the nation, finishing the season third in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency. Kris Murray has taken a massive stride as the team’s leading producer, commanding a brunt of Ohio State’s defensive attention in this matchup with his scoring prowess as he averages 20.5 points per game.
Ohio State Vs. Iowa Prediction: Over 153.5
Ohio State Vs. Iowa Odds
Oddsmakers have this as a potential thriller, opening the Hawkeyes as a -2 favorite. Bettors have been quick to back the Buckeyes, taking them down to +0.5 as of writing. This would be quite the swing should they flip to a favorite overnight, yet potentially well warranted as they are finally playing up to their potential after a devastating regular season. Ohio State has serious deep run potential when they are clicking on both ends.
As for their ability to score, oddsmakers have this as a high scoring affair as they opened the total at 153.5. Bettors were quick to hammer the over, taking it up to as high as 155 in some shops. Pending where you look, some shops have opened in the middle of the two numbers, struggling to adjust where this number should be. I managed to grab the opener of 153.5 and would take this up to 157.
Ohio State Vs. Iowa Key Matchups
The battle of perimeter offense
When Ohio State was dealing with injuries at various levels, their ball movement took a dip and that led to stagnant possessions. Now nearing full health, the Buckeyes offense has improved at finding the open man through ball screens and motion in the interior.
A result of this has been an improvement in perimeter shooting, completing at a respectable 35.8% clip. They will be poised to find success once again as Iowa is weak at shifting towards the open shooter on the perimeter.
Especially as of late, allowing opposing offenses to shoot an outrageous 51.9% from deep in their last three games. Ohio State being able to keep scoring pace from deep is a major reason why I believe our over will cash in our Ohio State Vs. iowa prediction.
With Ohio State being able to take advantage of a weak Iowa perimeter defense, I expect them to ramp up the tempo to match Iowa’s scoring pace with ease. This will result in a fast-paced scoring effort, doing their part to help cash our over ticket.