OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (5-0)
at LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (5-0)
KFC Yum! Center - Louisville, KY
Tip-off: Tuesday, 9:30 p.m.
Line: Louisville -8, Total: 135.5
Unbeaten No. 5 Louisville participates in its first ACC/Big Ten challenge on Tuesday night as it plays host to No. 14 Ohio State, which is also undefeated.
The Buckeyes (1-3 ATS) are looking to start 6-0 on the season, but they have been double-digit favorites in all four lined games, and will face their most difficult challenge thus far against the Cardinals. The biggest reason for optimism for OSU is a new and improved offensive team. Last year, the Buckeyes reached 90 points in only one game all season, but through five games this season, they have passed that number three different times. The Buckeyes are shooting 57% from the floor, which is good for 2nd in the nation. Head coach Thad Matta has had his teams prepared to hit the road on Tuesday nights, as the Buckeyes are 6-0 ATS in this scenario during the past three seasons. Louisville (2-2 ATS) is also looking to move to 6-0, but has been successful due to a defense allowing a mere 46.6 PPG on 30% FG (19% threes). The Cardinals are still looking to get things going on the offensive end, as the team has more turnovers than assists (64 to 59). In the last game on Wednesday, Louisville was able to only score 45 points when it shot 32% FG against Cleveland State. However, the Cardinals are 10-2 ATS over the past three seasons when coming off a home no-cover on a straight-up win. Neither team has any significant injuries of concern.
Can Louisville cover the sizable spread against unbeaten Ohio State? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks. The experts have begun the 2014-15 season with a bang, posting a collective 60% ATS mark (45-30) in Best Bets. The five experts are led by StatFox Gary's stellar 73% ATS mark (11-4), while StatFox Zach is 67% ATS (10-5), and StatFox Brian is 60% ATS (9-6) to open the season.
The Buckeyes have had problems on the offensive end of the court the past two seasons, but through five games, the offense has been great. Ohio State enters this game ranked 2nd in the nation in shooting (57% FG), 6th in assists (19.4 APG) and 10th in scoring (87.2 PPG). The leading scorer for Ohio State is freshman PG D’Angelo Russell (18.0 PPG, 5.4 APG and 4.0 RPG), but he will in for a very difficult task on Tuesday night. Russell, who is from Louisville, spurned the Cardinals to go to Ohio State, so he will be in for a hostile welcome back home. The Buckeyes do have an experienced backcourt in SG Sam Thompson (12.0 PPG, 64% FG, 4.6 RPG) and PG Shannon Scott (9.2 PPG, 10.4 APG) will play a big role in this game, in keeping a young Buckeyes team composed. Scott is currently leading the nation in assists, but he has not faced a team that will pressure the ball like Louisville. The biggest struggle for the Buckeyes has been on the glass, as they rank 141st in the nation in total rebounds (36.4 RPG). C Amir Williams (8.3 PPG, 77% FG, 5.3 RPG) is the leader on the boards, but he will have to be big against one of the elite rebounding teams in the country.
Louisville enters the game with an NCAA-best 48.8 RPG, as six guys are averaging at least 4.6 RPG. The team holds a +13.6 RPG margin, and has held visitors to 41.2 PPG on 28% FG (19% threes) in four home games. The offense is where the Cardinals have struggled, ranking 50th in the nation in scoring (77.2 PPG), 159th in shooting (44% FG) and 215th in assists (11.8 APG). Shot selection has been a question mark for the team, as the players continually pass up good shots for much tougher shots. The offensive struggles were expected, as Louisville lost guys like SG Russ Smith and SF Luke Hancock from last year. But the Cardinals still have one of the best players in the country in C Montrezl Harrell (17.4 PPG, 60% FG, 8.8 RPG), who has developed his offensive game to match his prowess on defense. His athleticism will play a big role in this matchup, as the Buckeyes do a good job of finishing at the rim. The staple of Louisville the past few seasons has been its guard play, and there is still a lot of talent in the backcourt. SG Terry Rozier (13.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.2 APG) and PG Chris Jones (12.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 3.4 APG) are two physical guards that can make things very difficult for the opposing point guards.