OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (17-5)
at IOWA HAWKEYES (17-5)
Carver-Hawkeye Arena – Iowa City, IA
Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Iowa -5.5, Total: 138.5
Ohio State will look to build off a road victory at Wisconsin as they travel to Iowa City on Tuesday night to take on No. 17 Iowa.
The Buckeyes at one point in the season were 13-0 and ranked No. 3 in the country. However, they have really struggled since that hot start, going 2-5 (SU and ATS) in their past seven contests, due in large part because of their inability to score. Ohio State (10-11 ATS overall, 4-5 ATS in Big Ten) comes into the game against Iowa ranked 164th in the nation in scoring (72.0 PPG) and ranked 123rd in shooting (45.3% FG), numbers that have dipped to 61.2 PPG and 39.5% FG over the past five games. The Hawkeyes are one of the biggest surprises in the country, emerging as a legitimate contender in the Big Ten. Iowa (13-7 ATS overall, 6-3 ATS in Big Ten) has been terrific on the offensive end this season, ranking seventh in the nation in scoring (84.3 PPG) on 47.3% FG (42nd in Div. I) and 17th in assists (16.3 APG). These two teams played earlier this season in Columbus on Jan. 12, with the 6-point underdog Hawkeyes pulling away late for the 84-74 victory. Before that outcome, the Buckeyes had won each of the previous eight meetings SU, but Iowa is now 7-3 ATS in the past 10 matchups in this series. Although Ohio State is 10-1 ATS (91%) revenging an SU loss as a home favorite under head coach Thad Matta, Iowa is a hefty 18-4 ATS (82%) versus good defenses (42% FG or less) after 15+ games over the past two seasons.
Which team will pick up the key conference win on Tuesday? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 59% ATS (188-129-5) mark, including a stellar 62% ATS (156-95-3) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 65% ATS (41-22-2) in Best Bets for the season and 69% ATS (34-15-1) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 61% ATS (39-25-1) for the season and 69% ATS (22-10) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Scott is a hefty 59% ATS (38-26-1) for the season and 62% ATS (28-17-1) since Dec. 2. StatFox Zach is a strong 57% ATS (36-27-2) on Best Bets this season, including 60% ATS (30-20-1) since Nov. 22, while StatFox Gary is 54% ATS (34-29-2) for the season, and 58% ATS (28-20) since Nov. 29.
Ohio State comes into the game ranked 190th in the country in rebounding (35.0 RPG), and has a narrow +0.6 RPG margin for the season. This is a major area of concern facing Iowa's excellent rebounding team that held a 40-31 rebounding margin in the Jan. 12 meeting. However, the Buckeyes remain stellar on defense, allowing only 58.9 PPG this season (7th in nation) on 39.8% FG (37th in Div. I) with the stingiest three-point defense (26.5%) in the nation. While OSU does not have a high-powered offense, it was able to score 74 points on 45% FG in last month's loss to Iowa. PF LaQuinton Ross (14.1 PPG, 42% threes, 5.5 RPG) scored 22 of those points to start a six-game streak of scoring more than 10 points, averaging 17.0 PPG during this run. Joining Ross as a talented scorer is SG Lenzelle Smith Jr. (11.8 PPG, 37% threes, 5.1 RPG), who scored 10 points in the loss to the Hawkeyes, but he was horrible on Saturday. In that win against Wisconsin, Smith Jr. was able to score only two points (1-of-7 FG), but he did grab a season-high 10 rebounds, and will be needed on the glass for this matchup as well. C Amir Williams (9.0 PPG, 61% FG, 6.5 RPG) is the Buckeyes' best post player at 6-foot-11, but like his fellow teammates, has struggled to score the ball on a consistent level. Since his solid 11-point, 6-rebound performance against Iowa, Williams has only 7.0 PPG on 11-of-24 shooting (46%) in five games. Senior PG Aaron Craft (9.1 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.5 RPG, 2.4 SPG) is the leader of the team, but he'll need to play much better on Tuesday than he did in the Jan. 12 loss to Iowa when he scored only six points with six assists and six turnovers before fouling out. But he did have three steals in that meeting and remains one of the best defensive players in the country, where he has the ability to make things very difficult for opposing point guards. His ball pressure will be a huge key as the Hawkeyes have one of the most efficient offenses in all of the country. If Craft is able to get after it on defense and pressure the Iowa guards without getting into foul trouble, then the Buckeyes have a great chance of getting the victory.
In addition to their offensive efficiency, the Hawkeyes have been great this season on the glass, ranking 3rd in the nation with 43.5 RPG and holding a hefty +9.6 RPG margin this season. What has made Iowa one of the best offenses in the country is its ability to score from the outside (37.0% threes) as well as feed it down low to junior PF Aaron White (13.5 PPG, 62% FG, 6.5 RPG). White is a versatile big man that has the ability to make plays off the bounce, but also does a great job of finishing at the free-throw line (85%). He creates a lot of mismatches when he has the ball, as opposing defensive players find it hard to stay in front of White. This was certainly true last month when White tallied 19 points (8-of-12 FG), six boards and two blocks in the win at Ohio State. SF Melsahn Basabe (8.0 PPG, 57% FG, 6.5 RPG) is another post player that is able to dominate the glass, allowing White the ability to go out and make plays on the offensive end. Basabe pulled down a game-high 10 boards to go along with an efficient 11 points (4-of-5 FG, 3-of-4 FT) in last month's win in Columbus. Highly-talented G Roy Devyn Marble (16.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.0 APG) led the Hawkeyes on the scoreboard in that victory with 22 points (7-of-13 FG, 8-of-11 FT) while also chipping in four rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks. Sophomore PF Jarrod Uthoff (8.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG) is also a talented offensive player, giving the Hawkeyes a reliable 6-foot-8 shooter that can hit the three-point shot with great regularity at a 48% clip. He and heady PG Mike Gesell (7.1 PPG, 3.6 APG) both scored in double-figures in the upset in Columbus last month.