The Big Ten tournament continues on as the Ohio State Buckeyes will look to pick up their second win of the past two days as they take on Iowa. We’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing in this one.
One of the best parts about March basketball is that it gives teams who had a disappointing regular season the chance to turn it all around with one hot streak. Ohio State is looking to be one of those teams, and they have already secured victory number one in the conference tournament.
Being able to hold Wisconsin to just 57 points is a good sign for a team that ranks 112th in the country in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. The Buckeyes rank 128th in average points allowed per game, but after yesterday they have now won three of their last four games and held opponents to 62 points or less in those wins.
On February 16th, they lost 92-75 in Iowa, as the Hawkeyes shot 57% from the field and 37% from three. That lack of defensive presence made it difficult for an Ohio State offense that ranks 21st in offensive efficiency on KenPom to stay within 20 points.
Iowa is another example of a team that relies heavily on their offense to win them games, as they are third in the country in offensive efficiency and 168th in defensive, according to KenPom. The fast-paced Hawkeyes are out to get as many shots as they can in a game, which they succeeded this season by ranking 10th in field goal attempts per game.
The problem with the fast tempo they operate at is that the other team is likely getting a similar amount of shots up, which led to Iowa ranking 346th in opponents' field goals made per game. Their entire season is dependent on how well they shoot it on a given night, and that was evident in their last regular season game as they fell to Nebraska 81-77 while only shooting 36% from the field.
Iowa is currently listed as -3 points favorites today, and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. When favored this season, the Hawkeyes are 14-9 ATS, while Ohio State is 3-10 ATS when listed as an underdog. Both teams have similar efficiency splits on KenPom, but I think Iowa is the better offensive team.
Iowa was ranked 99th in effective field goal percentage this season, just slightly ahead of Ohio State at 104th. The overall difference in offense is the reason Iowa is ranked 20 spots ahead of the Buckeyes on KenPom. Iowa also holds a higher true shooting percentage in conference games than Ohio State, at 55.4%.
One of the other significant areas that the Hawkeyes have held the advantage in this season is on the boards. Iowa is averaging more offensive rebounds and total rebounds per game in conference action this season than Ohio State, and in their most recent meeting, the Hawkeyes pulled in six more rebounds in the game. At the end of the day, this game will come down to offense, and I trust the Hawkeyes more in that area.
Iowa Hawkeyes (-3)