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Ohio State vs Wisconsin Picks and Odds

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Basketball

Jan 22, 2021 · 6:28 PM PST

Tyler Wahl standing on defensive end
Wisconsin's Tyler Wahl runs during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
  • The Wisconsin Badgers (12-3, 6-2 Big Ten) host the Ohio State Buckeyes (11-4, 5-4 Big Ten) Saturday, Jan. 23
  • Wisconsin is coming off a 68-52 win over Northwestern Wednesday while Ohio State blew a late lead to Purdue Tuesday and lost 67-65
  • Read below for odds, analysis, and our best bet for this matchup

The Wisconsin Badgers (12-3, 6-2 Big Ten), winners in four of their last five games, host the Ohio State Buckeyes (11-4, 5-4 Big Ten) Saturday, Jan. 23 in Madison. Tip is set for 4pm ET inside the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin, currently sitting at No. 10 in the AP poll, has been ranked as high as No. 4 and only dropped to as low as No. 13 this season. The No. 15 Buckeyes had won four of their last five prior to Tuesday’s defeat.

Ohio State vs Wisconsin Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Ohio State +4.5 (-112) +168 Ov 132.5 (-110)
Wisconsin -4.5 (-108) -200 Un 132.5 (-110)

Odds taken Jan. 22 FanDuel

OSU was up 64-59 with just over two minutes to play at home against Purdue Tuesday. But Jaden Ivey hit a three-pointer for the Boilermakers with five seconds left to break a 64-all tie that proved to be the difference. It was Ohio State’s first loss at the Value City Arena this season.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin put the clamps down on Northwestern in a major way Wednesday. Tyler Wahl scored a career-high 14 points in the 68-52 victory. But UW’s defense was the story. Greg Gard’s guys held the Wildcats to only 18 points in the second half and their lowest point total of the season.

The Badgers have been especially dominant at home, wining 17 of their last 18 at Kohl. That’s why they’re favored in this one.

On Gard

KenPom has the Badgers rated No. 9 in all of college basketball, good for third-best in the stacked Big Ten. But when it comes to adjusted defensive efficiency, Wisconsin is rated No. 5 in the nation, which puts them ahead of Iowa and Michigan. The only teams that play better defense are Baylor, Tennessee, Houston and Texas Tech. That part of UW’s game was on display in its last outing against Northwestern.

“I thought we did a better job of stopping the ball and not letting them get in the paint,” head coach Greg Gard said. “I thought the first half, we didn’t execute well enough in some of the ball-screen situations. Second half, we were better. We talked about some of those things at halftime. The second 20, I thought we were more aggressive in the ball screens and eliminated some of that dribble penetration.”

Along with a renewed attention to defense, Wisconsin possesses great balance in scoring. The team has five players who average between nine and 15 points per game, led by D’Mitrik Trice.

“It’s something we harped on before the season even started,” Trice said. “I think that’s what makes us dangerous. That’s when we’re at our best when a lot of guys are sharing the ball. We’re scoring and high-fiving and getting assists.”

If that defense and balance continue Saturday, the Badgers will be victorious yet again.

The Buck Stops Here

Ohio State was on its way to a fourth straight victory Tuesday before the late-game meltdown.

“We were capable enough out there, and there are absolutely no excuses,” said OSU head coach Chris Holtmann. “We just have to coach better and play better in certain areas.”

Duane Washington Jr. led Ohio State with 21 points, going 6-of-9 from beyond the arc. And like Wisconsin on defense, Ohio State is one of the most elite teams in the country from an offensive efficiency perspective. The Bucks are rated No. 17 overall, but No. 5 in adjusted offensive efficiency. That puts them behind only Iowa, Gonzaga, Villanova and Baylor. It’s fair to say those four teams are widely considered the best four teams in college hoops this season, so being right behind them is significant.

Can Washington put up a similar performance in Madison to the one he did in Columbus? Will he get enough help from uber-efficient teammates?

Strength vs Strength

As we’ve noted, these teams are two of the best in the country from a defensive and offensive perspective. But, as the old saying goes, a good defense usually beats a good offense. I believe that to be the case here.

Plus, when you consider Wisconsin’s recent stretch of dominance at the Kohl Center, handicapping this one becomes more clear. The Badgers are 25-2 at home over the last two seasons and Ohio State has only won there four times in 15 tries.

The under is an intriguing bet in this spot, as Wisconsin games have gone under 132.5 four of the last five outings (the one exception was an 80-73 double-overtime victory over Indiana). But I like the Badgers to cover the spread and beat the Buckeyes.

The pick: Wisconsin -4.5 (-108)

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