The Ohio State Buckeyes (14-4) and Iowa Hawkeyes (13-4) headline the college basketball slate on Thursday night. It should be an entertaining Big Ten matchup in Iowa City at the University of Iowa. Iowa goes into tonight as the No. 8 team in the country, while Ohio State is slightly better at No. 7 in the country. I’m not so sure that the Buckeyes are the more talented team, though, despite the rankings.
In any event, expect a good one between Ohio State and Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena tonight. Ohio State and Iowa are two of three ranked teams on the schedule. The other is the Gonzaga Bulldogs against the Pacific Tigers. That game was a late addition to the slate, scheduled only a few days ago on the fly.
Ohio State goes into Thursday night with a record of 79-62 following an impressive win over the Michigan State Spartans on January 31. The Buckeyes also have a couple of nice wins on the road recently, with a 87-81 win against the Illinois Fighting Illini on January 16, and then a 74-62 win over the Wisconsin Badgers a week later on January 23.
If you watch what Ohio State did against Purdue the next outing, though, it didn’t look like the same team. The Boilermakers went to Columbus and upset the Buckeyes by a score of 67-65. It was a sloppy showing by Ohio State, but we know that they’re capable of more than that. Since that loss, the Buckeyes are on a three-game winning streak, which includes the 74-62 win over ranked Wisconsin.
Iowa needed to dig deep to avoid an upset at the hands of the Michigan State Spartans on Tuesday. Michigan State had Iowa on the ropes, but they were unable to hold on and suffered a 84-78 loss. Offenses can’t afford to have just an average day against the hot shooting Hawkeyes. Luka Garza can rack up the points on any defense in the country. It’s up to the opposition to try to limit him the best they can. Head below for our free Ohio State vs. Iowa pick on February 4, 2021.
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Iowa Hawkeyes NCAA Betting Odds:
Ohio State vs. Iowa Prediction:
Iowa left the door open for Michigan State on Tuesday, but the Spartans didn’t plow through. The Hawkeyes survived with a 84-78 win and got away with a less than perfect effort. Luka Garza certainly showed up once again. I haven’t seen a defense this season that has been able to bully Garza around. He’s a sharpshooting big man that is a threat to score from everywhere on the floor.
Unfortunately for him, he’s not nearly athletic enough to warrant a high pick in the NBA draft, so that’s his one knack. That said, Garza has had a lot of success at Iowa and will receive a chance at the top level. Garza has recorded an average of 26.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game.
He is connecting at a mammoth clip of 59.6% from the field. For a 6’11” 265 pounder, Garza shows nice touch from deep. He has connected for a 45.6% three-point percentage. If only Garza had some athleticism to go along with his shooting ability. Nikola Jokic is not the most athletic guy and makes it work, but he’s the rare exception in the NBA. A lot of unathletic big men flame out or become role guys off the bench.
Garza has led the Hawkeyes to 89.4 points per game. Only Gonzaga is more effective at scoring the ball. They’re the only team that has eclipsed 90 points per game, but the Hawkeyes are coming close to being the second. At home, they’re just over 90 points a game at 90.8 points scored per contest. Their defense has been average, though, with 69.8 points against per game in Iowa City. The Buckeyes are 114th in the NCAA with a respectable 67.7 points against per game.
However, they’ve been weaker on the road, having allowed an average of 73 points against on the road per outing. The 13-4 Hawkeyes have just looked kind of bored lately, with a close call against Michigan State and a couple of losses against Indiana and Illinois. With Ohio State in town, I anticipate Iowa putting together a complete game in a matchup that should motivate them. A 83-74 or 80-70 win for the Hawkeyes is what I’m looking at in this one.