When it rains, it pours. That has been the theme for Ohio State’s season as of late as they have been battling through injuries while in the midst of a six-game losing streak, dropping 11 of their last 12. Their last loss was about as bad as it gets, only mustering 41 total points against Michigan State in a blowout. Iowa has had a shaky season themselves but are firmly in fourth of the Big Ten standings. Can Ohio State get back on track with a win over the Hawkeyes?
Ohio State Vs. Iowa Odds
Oddsmakers don’t think so as they opened the Buckeyes as a +6.5 underdog. Bettors are in agreement with bookmakers, backing Iowa up to as high as -8 in some shops. This seems like a slight overreaction to Ohio State’s last game, although justified for how awful they looked. They have struggled to sustain any sort of continuity due to injuries, looking lost at times for long periods of time. That won’t fly against the fast-paced Hawkeyes, capable of burying opponents in a flash.
Speaking of scoring points in a flash, that is exactly what oddsmakers think will happen as they opened the total at 154.5. Bettors are tempering their expectations of points being scored on the board, backing the under down to 153.5 as of writing. This line movement comes as a slight surprise as both offenses run as one of the most efficient in the nation, yet their defense has been their Achilles heel. Ohio State’s offensive identity also plays friendly towards the under, slowing it to a snail’s pace and generating the best shot possible.
Ohio State Vs. Iowa Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Wait on OSU spread
While that style of play did not work against Michigan State, I believe Ohio State will find offensive success way easier to come by this time around. Iowa’s defense has been a historically bad unit and that is no different this time around as they currently rank 143rd in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. I will wait to take a stab at Ohio State as early money has sided with the Hawkeyes by moving the number a point and a half in their favor.
Even in the midst of all the injuries, Ohio State still runs as an efficient offense by ranking 28th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency per Kenpom. As mentioned earlier, their offensive identity revolves around the usage of half court sets, running at a snail’s pace to let plays develop for the highest quality shot possible. This pace of play has equated to 216th in Adjusted Tempo, playing at a sharp contrast to Iowa’s ranking of 48th.
Iowa’s defensive struggles come at the most crucial areas for Ohio State’s offensive success and that is the interior. While the Buckeyes are capable of stretching the floor with respectable perimeter shooting, they score a majority of their points underneath the arc. A healthier Zed Key and Brice Sensabaugh will be able to feast at both the mid-range and interior, already combining for 27.5 points per game.
Not only should they find their typical success in their own sets, but they also now get the added benefit of potentially taking advantage of transition points as well. This is in large part of Iowa wanting to get out in a hurry, leaving themselves vulnerable for Ohio State to exploit. With a speedier pace of play brings Havoc opportunities, giving OSU’s guards ample opportunities to find their scorers in stride by filling in the gaps.
Ohio State Vs. Iowa Key Matchups
Can Ohio State’s defense limit the Iowa onslaught?
Iowa interior scoring vs Ohio State defense
It’s never settling on the stomach on the idea that Ohio State’s defense plays a key role in this potential cover, but that is exactly what we need to swallow as we make this wager. Iowa runs as one of the best offensive units in the nation, ranking sixth in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency.
Iowa will look to impose their will on the interior as that is where they do a majority of their damage. Even though Iowa has a size advantage down low, this is exactly where Ohio State will want to focus on.
Ohio State’s main defensive issues come from their perimeter defense, struggling to limit the pick and roll and being vulnerable from a cutter or open shooter. This allows the Buckeyes to sag down, daring Iowa to beat them from deep. Not a recipe for consistent success on Iowa’s end.
Ohio State is in a must win situation should they want a non-zero chance at making the postseason come March. Wait to see how high this spread can climb before taking a position on the Buckeyes.