Ohio State Buckeyes (15-4) at Northwestern Wildcats (11-8)
We missed in a big way last night when we backed Oklahoma on the road against Kansas State. The Sooners were sloppy with the ball all night long with over twenty turnovers, half of those coming from Trae Young. Young just couldn’t get into rhythm all night long and had some great looks at the basket, they just didn’t go in. Without their superstar leader being able to score the Sooners got exposed badly.
This is really a one-man show this season in Norman and if you can slow down Young, something that is very hard to do, you can beat them. Today we will head to the Big-10 to break down the matchup between a surging Ohio State team and a slumping Northwest.
The Ohio State Buckeyes will travel to Rosemont, Illinois Wednesday night to play the Wildcats of Northwestern. Ohio State comes into this one on fire in conference play at 6-0, fresh off knocking off number one ranked Michigan State and are poised to win the Big-10 regular-season title.
Northwestern hasn’t had nearly as good of a run in the Big-10 as they sit at 2-4 in league play with recent losses to conference also-rans Nebraska, Penn State, and Indiana. The Buckeyes are -2-point road favorites. The game total over-under is set at 139 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM PST from Allstate Arena.
Not many people saw the Ohio State Buckeyes as legit Big-10 title contenders this season. The top of the league was loaded with Michigan State, and Purdue both expected to be very good and another solid level of squads a half a step back in Michigan and Maryland. The Bucks struggled a bit in the non-conference, losing a couple of games that didn’t look great at the time.
They dropped one to a Gonzaga team that many thought would be down this season, they aren’t. The Zags have been ranked all season and are locks to return back to the NCAA tournament again this year for the 19th consecutive season. They lost to Butler and Clemson.
Both losses looked rough at the time and completely forgivable now, as both of those teams are surging and figure to be playing meaningful games in late March. When you look back at the body of work it is a solid resume for Ohio State, when you look at how they have faired in conference play, they look like a dark horse Final Four team.
The Buckeyes have wins against Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Maryland already in league play and none of those games have even really been all that close. This team is steamrolling through league play.
They will have their hands full tonight when they square off against a Northwestern team that badly needs a win as their dreams of heading to a second straight NCAA tournament are quickly going up in flames in conference play.
The Northwestern Wildcats were very optimistic about where the program stood heading into this season. They made their first-ever NCAA tournament last season and looked poised to make another run at the madness this season. Things haven’t worked out the Wildcats way much this year, and at 11-8 they would need a major turnaround to get back into position for an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament.
The Cats didn’t have a terrible non-conference slate. They lost to Creighton, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma, all teams that are more than respectable this year. But it has been the Big-10 league play that has really hurt Northwestern. Losses to Nebraska, Penn State, and Indiana have really hurt the Wildcats chances of moving up the standings in the Big-10.
Right now, Northwestern is in ninth place in the Big-10, and this isn’t a league that is going to get more than 5-6 bids this year, so they are going to have to jump several teams to get back into contention if they don’t want their NCAA tournament streak to come to an end at one.
Northwestern has shown me nothing that says they will be even competitive in this game tonight. Yes, I know they are at home, and these home games in conference are where teams play their best, but on paper, this is a mismatch. They are 1-1 at home in conference, losing to a very average at best Nebraska team by 15 points and beating an imploding Minnesota Golden Gophers squad.
This line opened at Ohio State -3-points and the sharps, as they generally do with home underdogs in league play, pounced on it. They pushed this game to Ohio State -2, and I thank them for doing so. I suspect the public will back Ohio State here and I am not a big fan of betting with the public, but I think they should keep the action evened out and this line will stay about where it stands.
There is a small chance that this line moves again towards Northwestern this morning, but as game time gets closer and the casual bettors see the number I expect them to move it right back, so I would fire on this game now.
Give me the Ohio State Buckeyes on the road tonight laying a little bit of wood at -2-points.