Wisconsin vs. Ohio State prediction: College basketball odds, picks, best bets for Big Ten battle
Big Ten college basketball is always a grind. Its among the most competitive leagues in the nation.
But Wisconsin is making it look easy, reeling off three easy wins to start conference play.
Even better, the Badgers have won all three by double-digits, beating Michigan State by 13 on the road and most recently dispatching Nebraska by 16.
Ohio State has been involved in more B10 chaos. The Buckeyes are 2-2 in conference play after blowing late leads to Penn State and Indiana.
But this is a prime bounce-back opportunity for Ohio State and a prime letdown spot for Wisconsin.
Wisconsin vs. Ohio State odds
(Odds via FanDuel)
Wisconsin vs Ohio State prediction
(8:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)
Im playing the Buckeyes mainly because of the situational spot.
The Badgers have won four straight and, as mentioned, are 3-0 in Big Ten play. Theyre due for a loss.
Conversely, Ohio State is off a tough loss and is due for a big bounce-back in Columbus. Even better, the Bucks are 2-0 in Big Ten play at home but 0-2 on the road, so home-court advantage here should play a significant role.
To be fair, home-court advantage is always huge in the Big Ten. Since 2015, home teams in Big Ten play are 581-487-21 against the spread, covering 54.4% and generating a 4.6% ROI for backers.
That’s an eight-season sample size to work with. That’s not insignificant.
Wisconsin’s Steve Crowl. Getty ImagesSo, regardless of how these two match up on the court, I think Ohio State is due for a big win.
That said, I dont mind the schematic matchup for the Bucks.
Wisconsin plays almost entirely through the post, leveraging Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl on the block to open driving lanes for AJ Storr.
But I think Ohio State can hang down low. Felix Okpara and Zed Key check in as above-average post defenders by PPP allowed (both 0.77 PPP allowed, 62nd percentile), so the Bucks rank top-70 nationally in post-up PPP allowed by ShotQualitys metrics (0.78).
If the Bucks hold up on the low block, thatll throw off Wiscos offensive flow.
On the other end of the court, Wisconsins pack line is tough to beat. But Greg Gard wants to turn opposing ball-handlers into shooters, and Ohio State has some tough shooters.
Bruce Thornton is a bully-ball point guard who can pull up from anywhere. Roddy Gayle and Jamison Battle are similarly tough shot-makers on the wing.
Bruce Thornton finds a way! @Bruce2T_ x @OhioStateHoopspic.twitter.com/Vy5jKfKrhQ
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) January 7, 2024Even better, Wisconsin struggles when opponents drive past its pack line, as the Badgers havent been able to defend post-up sets or midrange shooters effectively. Ohio State creates mid-range and post-up opportunities better than most Big Ten teams.
The Bucks also utilize cutters heavily once they do get on the interior. While the Badgers havent allowed many back-door opportunities, theyve struggled to defend those sets when they happen (1.2 PPP allowed, 33rd percentile).
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So, I expect the Buckeyes to hold their own against Wiscos post-up offense, and I expect they generate efficient offense by dribble-driving past the Badgers pack line.
Ultimately, however, I think Ohio State comes out with its hair on fire in a great situational spot, while Wisconsin receives an overdue loss after several big-time wins.
Ill happily bet the Bucks as short home-court favorites.
EvanMiya projects Ohio State as a two-point home favorite over Wisconsin, and ShotQualityBets projects the Buckeyes as a three-point home favorite, so I think this wager holds value.
Wisconsin vs. Ohio State pick
Ohio State ML (-134, FanDuel) | Play to ML (-140)
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