Ohio State vs. Wisconsin Betting Odds
A huge Big Ten battle is happening in Madison Thursday, as the powerhouse Buckeyes will take on the up-and-coming Badgers.
Wisconsin is the biggest surprise in college hoops. And it’s all because of Johnny Davis. Behind his 22.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, Davis is building a resume for National Player of the Year.
However, so is EJ Liddell. Liddell is putting up 20/7 per game on better shooting splits and is actually ranked No. 1 in KenPom’s Player of the Year ratings. Ohio State is 10-3 with a win over the Badgers thanks to Liddell’s heroics.
So, which player’s squad has the edge in Madison?
Ohio State Buckeyes Odds
Chris Holtmann-led teams always look the same: Explosive offensively and mediocre defensively.
The Buckeyes are 11th in offensive efficiency and ninth in effective field goal percentage. The team also gets to the line often and makes over 75% of their shots from the charity stripe.
Liddell is the leader, but the backcourt has contributed just as much. Specifically, freshman Malaki Branham, the former Mr. Ohio Basketball who’s the only other double-digit scorer on the Buckeyes.
Malaki Branham’s previous career-high was 11 points — he dropped 35 tonight in Ohio State’s win at Nebraska 🔥 pic.twitter.com/22DKCstxOE
— Billy Heyen (@BillyHeyen) January 3, 2022
The perimeter shooting has been a surprise. Ohio State is generally solid shooting, but the numbers this season are staggering.
The Buckeyes are 11th in 3-point shooting (39.2%) and fifth in spot-up points per possession.
Could there be regression coming for those numbers? Probably, as ShotQuality’s metrics have the Buckeyes shot quality record closer to 7-6 than 10-3. The Buckeyes do rank top-50 in taking long, 2-point jump shots, which is always bad from an analytics standpoint.
On the contrary: The defense is an issue.
While Liddell, Zed Key, and Kyle Young lead a strong interior defense – one that ranks in the 80th percentile in post-up points per possession allowed – the guys in front of them are pathetic.
The Buckeyes rank 317th in defensive turnover rate despite ranking top-50 in block rate. The steal and non-steal turnover numbers are pathetic, and the pick-and-roll defensive numbers are equally suboptimal (.867 points per possession allowed, 319th).
Wisconsin Badgers Odds
I wrote a lot of pre-season content on the Big Ten conference. Like most analysts were, I believed the Wisconsin ceiling was too low considering the roster turnover.
Davis has changed everything.
Wisconsin is solid defensively – even due for some 3-point regression– with length and rim protection on the interior. Meanwhile, the Badgers have a guy who can carry them through long offensive droughts.
The idea that Johnny Davis cooked Jaden Ivey all game is hilarious to me. pic.twitter.com/zFYjrAQyDR
— Simon Rath (@HawksDraftNerd) January 12, 2022
Davis is a true three-level scorer who can pull up, drive, and shoot over 80% from the free-throw line. Meanwhile, he’s solid defensively (74th percentile in points per possession allowed) while pulling down a ton of boards.
Moreover, the backcourt might be underrated. Brad Davison and Chucky Hepburn are the primary ball-handlers on an offense that’s second in turnover rate, including sixth in steal rate and fourth in non-steal turnover rate. The Badgers do not turn the ball over.
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin Prediction and Pick
My pick: Wisconsin -2.5 (-110 at DraftKings)
It’s time to stop fading the Badgers, who are now a whopping 10-5 against the spread this season. That includes a 7-4 against the spread mark as a favorite.
The Wisconsin “swing” offense is very perimeter-oriented, and you can be sure Davis and Davison are going to be launching. The Badgers’ offense is going to attack the Buckeyes’ weakness.
Meanwhile, look for Wisconsin’s tandem of 7-foot centers (Steven Crowl, Chris Vogt) alongside 6-foot-9 Tyler Wahl to largely nullify Liddell’s interior presence. That will put pressure on the younger Buckeye backcourt, which is talented but could get outplayed by Wisconsin’s.
I’ll take Wisco at anything better than -3.