NCAAM Pick December 16, 2020 – Ohio State Buckeyes at Purdue Boilermakers

Well, I guess they can’t fire Bruce Webber just yet. The embattled head coach of the Kansas State Wildcats is firmly on the hot seat after a disappointing season last year, and a slow start to the season this year. Webber’s Wildcats were coming off of a home court loss to D-2 school Fort Hays State and were major underdogs on the road against Iowa State last night. But for the first time in over a year, the Wildcats actually showed a little bit of heart, and managed to pick up a big upset victory on the road.

Here is something I never thought I would say this year, the Kansas State Wildcats are in first place! Looking back on how the game played out, K-State didn’t really play very well as they shot an abysmal 4-23 from three-point land and turned the ball over 17 times. But the Wildcats got a helping hand from the refs as they went to the line 29 times! I’ll have to give K-State some credit, though, as they knocked down 26 of those 29 shots from the charity stripe, and that was the difference in this game.

I’m not sure a win at Iowa State is going to be enough to save Webber’s job, as the Cyclones aren’t going to be very good this year either, but it was nice to see this team give a real effort for once. I hated that it cost me a bet, though! What can you do, this one was nearly impossible to see coming, and I am going to write it off as a one off fluke. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will look to get right back on track as we head to the Big 10 for a conference game between Purdue and Ohio State.

Today’s Game

  • Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0) at Purdue Boilermakers (4-2)
  • Mackey Arena, West Lafayette
  • 4:00 PM PST
  • TV: BTN

The Purdue Boilermakers open up their Big 10 conference schedule tonight at home as they host the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Boilermakers are expected to finish in the middle of the pack this season in the loaded Big 10. But after seeing two of their best returning seniors in Matt Haarms and Nojel Eastern, transfer away from the program, many are wondering if they have enough talent to hang with the best the league has to offer. The losses haven’t slowed them down much, though, as they are playing well and have a 4-2 record to show for it.

For Ohio State, the Buckeyes are also playing their first conference game of the season and are undefeated and ranked 20th in the latest AP Poll. The Buckeyes have played a very soft schedule so far this year (SOS #266) and will face their biggest challenge of the season so far tonight at Purdue. Winning on the road in a Big 10 is always tough, and the Buckeyes would love to upset the Boilermakers tonight.

Spread:

  • Purdue Boilermakers (-5.5)
  • Ohio State Buckeyes (+5.5)
Money line:

  • Purdue Boilermakers (-240)
  • Ohio State Buckeyes (+195)
Total Points:

  • Over 133 (-110)
  • Under 133 (-110)

Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0)

I want to get this out of the way right now, the Ohio State Buckeyes aren’t as good as they have looked so far this season. Their undefeated record is inflated by wins over Illinois State, UMASS-Lowell, Morehead State, and Cleveland State, all teams ranked outside of the top-200 nationally.

Now, that being said, this is a quality basketball team that has a lot of talent and is very well-coached. They haven’t beaten any good teams this year, outside of a serviceable win over Notre Dame, but that doesn’t mean they can’t, or won’t, beat good teams.

The Buckeyes play a very efficient offense and rarely turn the ball over. They play a deep rotation and have four players averaging over 13-points a game. E.J. Liddell returns this year after a solid freshman season and has quickly emerged as a potential all-conference talent. Liddell leads the team in scoring and rebounding at 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Liddell missed the Buckeyes last game with an undisclosed sickness that is reportedly not COVID-19 related and should be back on the court tonight for Ohio State.

Purdue Boilermakers (4-2)

We already talked about the talent that left the program at Purdue, but what we didn’t mention is that they still have some guys that can play ball left in West Lafayette. Trevion Williams was expected to pick up the slack of Haarms leaving as the big man down low for Purdue. Williams had a breakout season last year as a sophomore, averaging 11 points and nearly 8 rebounds a game. This year, he got off to a slow start, though, as he scored 10 points or fewer in five out of the first six games for Purdue.

Williams looked great in his last game, though, as he dropped 30 points and 11 boards on Indiana State. If Williams isn’t able to give Matt Painter the inside presence that he has grown accustomed to having the last couple of seasons, Purdue’s offense will struggle. In the Boilermaker’s two losses, Williams scored just 10 points on 4-11 shooting against Clemson and only 8 points on 4-10 shooting against Miami. Purdue needs Williams to play well tonight if they want to protect their home floor.

Who Do I Like?

I am very skeptical of home teams in the Big 10 this season. Home teams have dominated in this league for a long time, and backing them has been very profitable. The books know this, so they tend to lean heavier towards the home teams than the data says that they should, to make up for such historically dominant homecourt play. But after seeing homecourt advantage being greatly diminished so far this season, I have been watching the Big 10 very closely as they ease into league play.

There have been three Big 10 league games this season. Home teams are 1-2 ATS in those three games. Now, that is a very small sample size, but so far, my premonition that road teams are going to get the better side of the betting market this year in league play, has come true so far. Without the fans in the stands, all of these games are basically neutral site games. But the books and the public are still valuing the home teams like normal.

This line is Purdue -5.5-points. When these teams match up at Ohio State later in the year, the Buckeyes are probably going to be -5- or -6-point favorites. Those are standard Big 10 lines that tend to swing heavily based on where the game is being played. But I think in our current COVID-19 driven environment, that with two teams as evenly matched as these teams are, the lines should be tighter in both games. I see Purdue as maybe -1 or -2-point favorites tonight. When the season series shifts back to the Buckeyes building, I see Ohio State as similarly sized home favorites. Five and a half points is just too much.

The Bet

I think this game will be close. Purdue has always been great at home, but I don’t think they are going to be able to separate themselves from the Buckeyes tonight. This game is going to be a one-possession game the entire way, and I see Ohio State covering this number. It wouldn’t at all shock me to see Ohio State pick up the outright upset in this one either.

If this game were truly on a neutral floor, the Buckeyes would be favored by a point or two. The fact that I can get them getting +5.5-points is a high-value spot. So, I will back the Buckeyes tonight in this one and expect a highly competitive game that comes down to the final few possessions. Give me the Ohio State Buckeyes tonight on the road, getting +5.5-points in their Big 10 road opener!

The Bet: Ohio State Buckeyes +5.5

My Pick
Ohio State Buckeyes +5.5
Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL