Depending on what time the sun sets in your area, it’s Big Ten after dark as the Ohio State Buckeyes take on the Indiana Hoosiers. It has been anything but a successful season for the Buckeyes as they have faced brutal injury luck while also blowing late leads. Indiana has also been in the midst of a roller coaster type of year, going through a bumpy start but now bringing it all together with the improved play of their star player. Can they continue to improve their Big Ten seeding with a win over the hobbled Buckeyes?
Ohio State Vs. Indiana Odds
Oddsmakers think so as they opened Indiana as a -4 favorite. Bettors have also slightly sided with them, taking them up to -4.5 as of writing in some shops. This comes as no surprise as they have immensely improved over the past couple of games while the Buckeyes are dealing with a devastating injury to one of their key playmakers. While it looked bad at the moment it happened, it did turn out to be short term as he was able to suit up against Illinois. He was noticeably hampered by it, turning in one of his worst performances of the year.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a quick pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 147.5. Bettors are tempering their expectations at that thought as they have backed the under down to as low as 145.5. This actually comes as a bit of a surprise as the defense for both units have been their weak point in comparison to their elite offensive efficiency. Zed Key not being 100% has halted Ohio State’s scoring pace since sustaining the injury, making a play on the total an instant pass for me.
Ohio State Vs. Indiana Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Indiana -4
With that said, I am going to back Indiana at no higher than -5.5 as this sets up nicely as a momentum builder for the Hoosiers. Indiana is nearly considered as a championship contender per historic Kenpom metrics with their defense just falling short of qualifying. It’s not to say their defense is bad, they rank 43rd in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, but it does hold them back from taking the next leap as a serious contender.
Luckily for the Hoosiers, Ohio State’s offensive consistency has taken a serious wrench into the gears that drive them with Zed Key dealing with a nagging injury. He landed awkwardly on a dunk attempt in their game against Iowa, clearly limping in pain afterwards. It was a shock to see him give it a go against Illinois shortly after, but he clearly was still hampered by it as he shot 2-8 from the field and took a slight dip in his normal amount of minutes played.
Not only does Ohio State lose one of their key scorers while Key is dealing with his injury, but their scoring identity is in jeopardy as well against the Hoosiers. The Buckeyes rely on a brunt of their scoring production from their big man in the interior and now have to figure out how to generate consistent scoring success against one of the best big men in the country in Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Not all hope is lost for the Buckeyes should they struggle to score in the interior as this perimeter play has been impressive as well. They currently shoot 38.8% from deep, more than capable of stretching out Indiana’s defense. The issue is a majority of scoring for the Buckeyes comes from the interior, now relying on a more inconsistent style of play to stay within reach. Indiana also excels at smothering the perimeter, putting our spread tickets in good possession by stalling out the Buckeyes scoring output.
Ohio State Vs. Indiana Key Matchups
Can Trayce Jackson-Davis continue to dominate against the Buckeyes defense?
Trayce Jackson-Davis vs Ohio State interior defense
Trayce Jackson-Davis has been a man possessed as of late, averaging over 30 points per game in his last three outings. This is a massive differential from his current average, averaging 19.7 points per game.
He is poised for another great outing as the Buckeyes defense has been reeling throughout the season, currently ranking 76th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
This puts the Buckeyes in an unfortunate situation as they will have to either try and guard him one on one, or send down help and leave the perimeter open for a guard to slash through. Look for TJD to once again play a major role in Indiana’s success.
Back Indiana at no higher than -5.5 as they have advantages on both ends of the court against a hobbled Ohio State squad.