A battle of top teams in the Big Ten Conference is on tap when the #9 Iowa Hawkeyes (17-7, 11-6 Big Ten) take on the #4 Ohio State Buckeyes (18-6, 12-6 Big Ten) on Sunday afternoon. Iowa will try an avenge an 89-85 loss to the Buckeyes early this month and avoid the season sweep to OSU. Sunday’s tipoff is set for 4 p.m. EST inside Value City Arena in Columbus, OH. The Buckeyes are a 2-point favorite in the conference tilt against the Hawkeyes, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa’s four-game winning streak was halted Thursday night in a 79-57 defeat to the Michigan Wolverines on the road. Sunday’s game at Ohio State is the final road contest for the Hawkeyes this season. They will close out the regular season with two home games. Current NCAA Tournament projections peg Iowa as a 3-seed.
The Hawkeyes led the conference in scoring, averaging 85.2 points per game. Iowa ranks third in field goal percentage (47.1%) and first in three-point percentage (40.1%). Defensively, Iowa ranks 11th in the league surrendering 73.0 points per game. Iowa holds opponents to 41.2% shooting from the floor and is last in the Big Ten allow teams to shoot 35.1% from deep.
Senior center Luka Garza led the Hawkeyes in scoring Thursday night, pouring in 16 points in the loss. Iowa shot only 35.6% from the floor and got only eight points from their bench in their lowest scoring output of the season.
Iowa is 13-11 against the spread this season, but only 3-7 ATS over their last ten games. The Hawkeyes are 8-9 in conference play and just 2-4 ATS in their previous six games against the Buckeyes.
What to Know – Ohio State Buckeyes
OSU ran a streak of seven consecutive wins from the end of January through mid-February. The Buckeyes have stumbled recently, dropping back-to-back games to Michigan and Michigan State. If the season ended today, the Buckeyes would project as the final top-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Buckeyes offense is fourth in the Big Ten, scoring 78.0 points per game. OSU ranks fourth in both field goal percentage (46.4%) and three-point percentage (36.6%). Ohio State ranks near the middle of the league in all defensive categories, hold teams to 69.7 points per game, 42.3% shooting from the floor, and 34.1% from three.
After leading at halftime by five, the Buckeyes tripped up in the second half, and Michigan State roared back to win, 71-67, on Thursday night. OSU finished 4-of-14 from beyond the arc and lost the rebounding battle, 34-27. Sophomore star E.J. Liddell led the Buckeyes with 18 points, going 10-of-12 from the free-throw line.
OSU is 14-9-1 ATS this year, sporting a 5-2 mark over their last seven contests. Ohio State is 7-5 in home contests and 11-6-1 in Big Ten matchups.
The Pick is In
Both of the teams are in search of a victory after losses on Thursday night. OSU has been effective at home this season, sporting a 10-2 record on their home floor. Ohio State will need to contain Garza and limit the Hawkeyes from deep, but we expect the Buckeyes to pull this out at home.
The Pick: Ohio State -2