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After a tough loss against the Indiana Hoosiers earlier this week, the Iowa Hawkeyes (12-9, 4-6 in Big Ten) look to bounce back at home against Ohio State (13-8, 3-7 in Big Ten), a team that has been quite underwhelming this season.
Iowa and Ohio State need to get busy if either wants an outside shot at making the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes are 0-6 in Quad 1 games, while Ohio State has only one Quad 1 win so far this season. There is minimal (if any) margin of error for the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes, making this game all the more critical.
Find our Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Iowa Hawkeyes prediction below, including an in-depth analysis of each team, their respective seasons thus far, and the projected outcome for this game!
Ohio State hopes to log its first road win on Friday, February 2nd but enters the game against Iowa as 4.5-point underdogs. The Hawkeyes are one of the fastest teams in America, which is why the point total rests at 158 points, a higher-than-normal number for most collegiate games. The Under (-122) has a slight advantage over the Over (+102) at that line.
|Ohio State Buckeyes
|Over 158 (+102)
|Under 158 (-122)
Odds from BetMGM Sportsbook. Use our BetMGM promo code WSNMGM - bet $5, get $158 in bonus bets.
If the Iowa Hawkeyes want to make a fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament (the 2019-20 season did not have an NCAA Tournament due to COVID-19), they must go on a tear in their final ten Big Ten games. They also likely have to win several games in the Big Ten conference tournament to keep these hopes alive.
Things have looked different for the Hawkeyes this season; they no longer have the de facto primary offensive weapon with star power. Last season, Kris Murray (first-rounder in the 2023 NBA Draft) was the star. The prior season, Kris’ older brother, Keegan, was selected with the fourth pick of the 2022 NBA Draft. In the two seasons before Keegan’s breakout season, Iowa was led by Luka Garza, one of the greatest college basketball players of the past decade.
Now, Iowa still has a potent, high-octane offense, evidenced by ranking 18th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric. Further, the Hawkeyes roster three players (Ben Krikke, Payton Sandfort, and Tony Perkins) that average 15 or more points per game, giving them a three-headed offensive monster. Patrick McCaffery and Owen Freeman combine for close to 20 points and 10 rebounds, too.
While Iowa only ranks 142nd in 3P%, 86th in eFG%, and 202nd in offensive rebounding percentage, it makes up for it in other ways. The Hawkeyes rank seventh in points per game at home, primarily due to their pace (14th in adjusted tempo, per KenPom, sixth in assists per game, and 28th in turnovers per game. This squad moves and protects the ball as well as any team in the country, and often, that can outweigh “off” shooting nights as a team.
What can’t balance out an “off” offensive night, though, is a poor defense. Unfortunately, the Hawkeyes are exploitable on that end of the floor, ranking well outside the top 100 in adjusted defensive efficiency. The defensive glass has been their worst enemy at times, as they rank 279th in defensive rebounding percentage, which is a good metric to consider given how fast they play (86th in defensive rebounds per game is skewed due to pace).
Iowa’s three-point defense at home could also be a concern for the team in this game and future must-win home games. The Hawkeyes allow opponents to shoot a near-36% clip on their home floor, which is not conducive to winning, no matter how well they play on the other end.
Luckily, Ohio State is a relatively morbid three-point shooting team, hovering around a 30% clip from deep in road games. After being selected to finish seventh in the Big Ten media preseason polls, the Buckeyes have since collapsed, registering a terrible 3-7 conference record (12th in the Big Ten) with some inexcusable losses; they have dropped three consecutive games and seem to be headed down a slippery slope of complete collapse if they don’t string some wins together now. Effectively, this is a do-or-die spot for the Bucks.
Obviously, the loss of standout freshman Brice Sensabaugh from last season’s team would be a big blow, but the Buckeyes brought back several key players from last season’s team. As a matter of fact, the Bucks returned their third, fourth, sixth, and seventh-leading scorers from the 2022-23 campaign, including Zed Key, Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle Jr., and Felix Okpara.
Ohio State also hit the transfer portal to find a combo forward who could squeeze into Sensabaugh’s spot; it hit the lottery with Jamison Battle, the former sharpshooting Minnesota forward who can play the three or the four. Battle has shot the lights out this season, boasting a shooting split of 47/44/93. That is elite at any level of the game.
While Battle was the perfect fit for what OSU needed, it didn’t expect to need upgrades at several other positions. The Bucks can’t shoot (33.9% from three) and don’t defend (120th in adjD) or rebound (139th in offensive rebounding percentage) nearly well enough to make up for it.
Below, we dive deeper into our prediction and betting pick for the Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Iowa Hawkeyes game!
Let’s get into the nitty gritty of our betting prediction. Ohio State is a horrible road team (0-5) and has lost its last two road games by double-digits, including a 25-point beatdown at the hands of the Northwestern Wildcats.
Expect a somewhat similar result in this game, as Northwestern and Iowa are both top-25 teams in adjusted offensive efficiency. While the Hawkeyes are the inferior defensive team (between Iowa and Northwestern), they still ramp up their intensity on that end of the floor at home.
Iowa’s two weaknesses as a team are on the defensive glass and its perimeter defense, but here’s the good news for Hawkeyes backers: Ohio State can’t shoot from deep outside of Battle, and the Buckeyes rank around 325th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage in their past three games.
Expect the Hawkeyes to pack the paint, except whoever has Battle as their defensive assignment. Ohio State will be uncomfortable with Iowa’s tempo (301st in adjusted tempo), and if Iowa does anything exceptionally well, it is forcing opponents to play at its pace.
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Iowa Hawkeyes pick: Iowa Hawkeyes -4.5 at BetMGM.
When: Friday, Feb. 2 @ 4:00/7:00 p.m. PT/ET
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, IA
TV: Fox Sports 1
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Andrew has always been an avid sports fan and followed his hoop dreams all the way to college. He’s well-versed in everything betting with multiple years of experience and is qualitatively and quantitatively knowledgeable in sports statistics and analytics.More info on Andrew Norton
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