Wisconsin Badgers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Preview and Pick

Wisconsin Badgers (22-4), PK, o/u 120.5 @ Ohio St. Buckeyes (17-9), PK, o/u 120.5, Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio, 4 p.m. est., Sunday
by Oracle of Predictem.com.

The Wisconsin Badgers may not be the flashiest team in the country, and with their No. 10 ranking, as well as having one of the best fundamental coaches around, it has put them under most people’s radar this season. The Badgers will take their methodical approach to Ohio State on Sunday afternoon at the Value Center Arena.

The Buckeyes have taken a tumble this season, just a year gone from making it to the NCAA Championship game. Ohio State is on the cusp of not even making the 65-team tournament in March with a 17-9 record. To this date, it’s pretty safe to say that this is their biggest game of the year. A win against a Top 10 opponent will surely boost their resume and give them a much better shot at getting into the tournament.

Ohio State is the poster child for inconsistency, though, alternating wins and losses in its last six games. During that streak, they lost to a Michigan team still trying to find their identity, as well as an offensively challenged Iowa squad.

With Ohio State being so young, senior leader Jamar Butler has tried his best to gather the troops. However, his recent comments about starting to tell his teammates “how it really is” haven’t really helped. Butler is the main man for Ohio State both offensively and defensively, leading the team in scoring (14.2 points), assists (6.2) and steals (1.5). The Buckeyes rely heavily on 7-foot freshman Kosta Koufos to hold down the paint. After an inconsistent start to his college career, Koufos has found a rhythm, scoring in double figures over the last nine games and collecting two straight double-doubles.

The Badgers may counter Koufos’ solid play of late, though, as Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan incorporates his own bigs of Brian Butch (6-11) and Greg Steimsma (6-11). Butch has been the team leader this year, both with his play and his emotion. The fiery center is averaging 12.3 points and 6.8 rebounds. He had a below average game in the 71-57 win over Illinois on Wednesday, scoring just 8 points and pulling down 5 rebounds. The Badgers always lean on Butch’s senior leadership, just as Ohio State leans on Butler.

It’s the role players that define the Badgers; guys like Joe Krabbenhoft, Jason Bohannon and Michael Flowers all play big parts in the team’s success on both ends of the court. Throw in Marcus Landry, who has been hot as of late (14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3 assists in past 2 games), it isn’t a surprise that Wisconsin is tied atop the Big Ten Conference.

On paper, it would seem as though the Badgers have the distinct advantage. Nevertheless, the Buckeyes have won 2 of the previous 3 meetings between the two squads. They have had Wisconsin’s number as of late, which is why bookmakers has opened up with a pickem line and an over/under of 120.5.

Some bettors may like this line for the Badgers considering they are 7-2 in their past 9 road games against the spread and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 Sunday games. On the year, Wisconsin is 11-12 ATS, while Ohio State is 11-11.

With two classic Big Ten teams playing a slow-down, physical style of play, the o/u may be something to get excited about. There are Sunday trends for bettors, too. The under has come in both for teams, with Ohio State having a 13-3 under record in its previous 16 Sunday games, while Wisconsin is 5-1.

Ohio State seems to like the under, coming in a whopping 15 times throughout the season.

This is the first and only match up of the year between these two teams, so it’s a bit harder to judge for bettors. Ohio State has a lot on its plate, with an NCAA bid as the main course, along with dessert of home court advantage for Sunday’s game.

The Badgers have been a consistent group all year, though. It’s hard to look past their defensive prowess, allowing just 55.4 points per game good enough for second in the country. They also hold opponents to 38.8% shooting (13th in the country). With a 7-3 record ATS on the road this year, along with one of the country’s top defenses, it’s hard to imagine Wisconsin being the underdog heading into this contest.

It’s the battle between inconsistent and consistent for bettors. All hands on deck seem to point at the Badgers.

Oracle’s Pick: I’m on the Badgers at a pickem.