Wisconsin vs. Ohio State Betting Odds
Big Ten play continues to heat up, and this should be the most interesting early-season matchup.
Wisconsin is overwhelming everybody’s expectations. Johnny Davis is emerging as a national star, and the rest of the rebuilt Badgers are defending at a very high level.
Meanwhile, Ohio State has a win over Duke on its résumé, and the Buckeyes continue to score more than any team in the conference behind EJ Liddell.
But can Wisconsin pull off another miraculous underdog victory? This time, the Badgers will have to do so on the road in Columbus.
Plus, Chris Holtmann and Co. won’t make anything easy.
Wisconsin Badgers Odds
When Wisconsin was down 17 at the half to Indiana, I thought we had finally gotten the Badger regression game. Wisconsin couldn’t keep playing at such a high level, especially considering the team can’t generate offense outside of Brad Davison and Davis.
Instead, Davis finished with 23 points and nine rebounds as the Badgers completed the unlikely second-half comeback. Greg Gard has taken an entirely new roster and has turned the Badger rebuild around.
For Wisconsin, it starts on the defensive end. No team has a better adjusted defensive shot quality than Wisconsin, wherein the team is forcing tough, inefficient shots at the highest rate in the nation.
Wisconsin allows only 35% of opposing shots to come from deep and are top-20 nationally in 2-point defense (42.6%). The Badgers don’t play excellent perimeter defense, but the team forces shots to come on the inside and use their length to their advantage.
Offensively, it’s all about Davis. Davis is far-and-away Wisconsin’s highest usage player, and he’s done wonders with it. He’s dropping over 20 points per game on over 56% true-shooting and grabbing six boards per game in the process.
I don’t think anyone saw Davis breaking out. He played just 20 minutes per game last season and scored double digits just nine times. But his growth combined with Davison running the offense has turned Wisconsin into a competent offensive team.
Competent offensively and dangerous defensively is the recipe for a team that can win the Big Ten.
Ohio State Buckeyes Odds
Holtmann has the Buckeyes playing their usual brand of basketball. The Buckeyes play elite offensively and questionable defensively, running the offense through EJ Liddell.
Through nine games, Liddell is the leader for KenPom player of the year, scoring 20 points per game while leading the seventh-most efficient offense. The Buckeyes are 11th in effective field goal percentage (57.1%) and top-20 in 3-point percentage (39.2%).
However, this year the Buckeyes have been slightly more efficient defensively. Specifically on the interior, where Liddell, Zed Key, and Kyle Young lead a defense that’s top-50 in both block rate and 2-point defense.
On the interior, Ohio State is top-100 in both percentage of shots allowed at the rim (34.6%) and effective field goal percentage allowed on those shots (54.1%). In post-up situations, the Buckeyes rank in the 89th percentile in points per possession allowed (.639).
The perimeter defense is continually shaky. But when Ohio State ranks above the 90th percentile in almost every situation offensively (98th in spot-up PPP, 94th in post-up PPP, 97th in transition PPP), Holtmann’s team can out-run and out-gun anybody.
Prediction and Pick
My pick: Under 137 (-115 at PointsBet)
A Big Ten conference game happening at Noon on a Saturday screams under.
Both these teams play relatively slow, with both teams ranking outside the top-250 in tempo. While Ohio State is an offensive firecracker, the Wisconsin defense has been playing out of its mind.
Meanwhile, the Ohio State defense should hold its own against a Wisconsin offense that’s 272nd in effective field goal percentage (46.5%).
While the over has hit in four of the last five games between these two, this total is higher than in recent years. Wisco-OSU hasn’t gone over 137 in four straight.
I’m expecting a slow-paced, grinder game early on Saturday.