We are in for a treat Thursday night when the #7 Ohio State Buckeyes (14-4, 8-4 Big 10) take on the #8 Iowa Hawkeyes (13-4, 7-3 Big 10) in Big Ten Conference play. The top-10 matchup marks the first of two contests between the two schools in February. Thursday night’s tipoff is set for 7 p.m. EST inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, IA. Iowa is a 5.5-point favorite over the visiting Buckeyes, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State capped the month of January with an 8-2 record, winning six of their last seven games. The Buckeyes head to Iowa City riding a three-game winning streak that includes an impressive road win at Wisconsin two weeks ago. OSU sits 1.5 games back of the top spot in the Big Ten standings with eight games remaining in their regular season.
The Buckeyes pour in 77.1 points per game and hold opponents to 67.7 ppg defensively. Ohio State has won their last three conference road games, winning by an average of 9.7 ppg.
Sophomore forward E.J. Liddell has emerged as an offensive threat for the Buckeyes, averaging 15.3 points per game and leading OSU in scoring in four of the last five games. Liddell has scored 20 or points in three-straight games while shooting over 50% from the floor in those contests.
OSU has a 10-7-1 record against the spread this season, including a 5-2 mark over their last seven games. In conference play, the Buckeyes are 7-4-1 and sport a 3-3-1 record in road contests.
What to Know – Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa kept their successful season alive in the new year with a 5-2 record in the first month of play. The Hawkeyes are 2-2 over their last four games, suffering a rare home loss to Indiana and road loss to rival Illinois. Like the Buckeyes, the Hawkeyes sit 1.5 games out of the top spot in the conference standings as the season winds down.
The Hawkeyes are second in the nation, averaging 89.4 ppg on the offensive end. Opponents score at a rate of 74.4 ppg against Iowa, but that number has risen to 79.7 ppg over their last three games.
Iowa’s offense revolves around last season’s Big Ten Conference Player of the Year and All-American Luka Garza. The center leads the country scoring 26.5 ppg and shooting 59.6% from the field. Garza has led the Hawkeyes in scoring in all but two games this year.
Iowa features a 10-7 record ATS this season, going 5-5 over their last ten games. The Hawkeyes have been solid ATS on their home floor with an 8-3 record this season.
The Pick is In
Ohio State is a well-coached and talented team playing high-level basketball over the last month of play. However, as good as the Buckeyes are, they have not faced a player like Garza. OSU does not have the offensive firepower or ability to slow down Garza and keep this one close.
The Pick: Iowa -5.5