NCAA Basketball Spread: Off
Value City Arena will be the site of a key Big Ten matchup Sunday afternoon. Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin Badgers will take on the host Ohio State Buckeyes in a game that has major implications in the Big Ten standings. Ohio State was the overwhelming favorite going into the year, but they sit behind Michigan State in the standings. Wisconsin is fourth in the standings, but a loss here puts them in danger of dropping to fifth or sixth pretty quickly.
Wisconsin’s goal is to win games by slowing the tempo down and making it ugly. They are quite good at doing just that, because the players understand the system very well. The Badgers allow only 51.7 points per game, which is the best mark in the nation. Opponents shoot just 27.9% from beyond the arc and 37.7% from the floor overall. In addition, it is the Badgers ability to take care of the basketball that makes them tough. Jordan Taylor is the team leader and he will likely end his career with the single best assist/turnover ratio of anyone in NCAA Basketball history.
Taylor is the team’s leading scorer at 14.1 points per game, but he is shooting just 39.1% from the floor this year. Wisconsin relies heavily on the three-point shot. Josh Gasser is the team’s best long-range shooter at 46.6%. This team doesn’t really have any low post scorers, but al lof their big guys can step out and shoot it from the outside.
Ohio State has had quite a few bumps in the road lately. Both Michigan and Michigan State shut them down and made the Buckeyes look bad on offense. The Buckeyes have had the tendency to do too much standing around on offense. They must keep moving without the ball and not just settling for one-on-one basketball. Jared Sullinger is the main man for the Buckeyes. Sullinger averages 17.2 points and 9 boards per game. Deshaun Thomas has been the leading scorer for the Buckeyes in most of their recent games, and he is averaging 14.8 points per contest. William Buford has struggled through his senior season, and he is a guy the Buckeyes really need to get it going. Buford has had a sweet stroke throughout his time on campus, but he has been off badly this year.
Aaron Craft gives the Buckeyes a very reliable point guard who is a pest on the defensive end. I’m not sure you’ll find anyone who makes the opposing point guard’s day more miserable than Craft does. Ohio State is very strong on the glass, and they should have the edge on the boards in this one. Defensively, the Buckeyes allow just 57.4 points per game.
Wisconsin is never an easy opponent to take down, but I do think the Buckeyes will win this one. Look for Sullinger to get it going down low in this one.
Prediction: Ohio State 66 Wisconsin 56
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