NCAA Basketball: Iowa/Ohio State Preview, Odds and Prediction 02/28/2021

by Big Al Staff

A Sunday afternoon Big Ten doubleheader on CBS concludes at 4 PM ET with a battle between two teams ranked in the Associated Press’ top-ten.

Iowa had been riding a four-game winning streak heading into Ann Arbor to face third-ranked Michigan on Thursday as a 5-point underdog. But the Hawkeyes were dominated on both ends of the court, with the Wolverines pulling away for a 79-57 win. Luka Garza led the team with 16 points but shot only 6 of 19 from the floor. The senior All-American leads the nation with a 24.3 points-per-game scoring average. He adds 8.3 rebounds-per-game and 1.5 blocks-per-game while making 54.8% of his shots and 44.6% of his 3-pointers.

Iowa improved their play on defense as of late before Michigan scored at a 1.18 points-per-possession rate against them. The Hawkeyes had not allowed more than 68 points in their four-game winning streak, with none of those four opponents registering more than 1.02 points-per-possession.

The news was even worse for Fran McCaffrey after the game with the announcement that Jack Nunge suffered a torn meniscus that would end his season. The junior was scoring 7.1 points-per-game while adding 5.3 rebounds-per-game.

McCaffery returned all five starters while getting three additional players back from injury from the team that finished 20-11. The Hawkeyes, 17-7, are ranked 9th nationally by the AP. They have high-profile wins against Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. Their six losses are against Gonzaga, Minnesota, Indiana (twice), Illinois, the Wolverines, and these Buckeyes. Iowa's 11-6 conference record puts them in a tie for fourth place in the Big Ten.

The Hawkeyes are the number two team in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They make 40.1% of their 3-point shots, fourth-best nationally, while posting an effective field goal percentage of 55.0%, 29th in the country. They are also second in the nation, with a turnover rate of 13.6%. But Iowa is 81st nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They allow their opponents to make 35.1% of their 3-point shots, 247th nationally. The Hawkeyes’ opponents rebound 30.4% of their missed shots, 262nd nationally.

Ohio State has lost two straight after following up a loss at home to Michigan last Sunday with a 71-67 upset loss at Michigan State as a 3.5-point favorite on Thursday. E.J. Liddell scored 16 points on 4 of 13 shooting. The sophomore leads the team goes eleven deep on their bench with a 16.0 points-per-game scoring average. Duane Washington added 17 points on 7 of 16 shooting to improve his 15.6 points-per-game scoring clip.

Chris Holtmann returned five of the nine players that played at least 10 minutes per game last year for the group that finished 21-10 with nine wins in their final twelve Big Ten games. Holtmann then added three impact transfers in the offseason: Abel Porter started at point guard at Utah State; Justice Sueing scored 14.6 points-per-game as a sophomore at California; Seth Towns was a former Ivy League Player of the Year at Harvard.

The Buckeyes opened the Big Ten season by losing two of their first three games. Holtmann led his team to go on to win ten of eleven games before dropping their last two. They are in third place in the highly-competitive conference with a 12-6 record. Ohio State has lost to Minnesota, Northwestern, and twice to Purdue on top of their recent setbacks to the Wolverines and Spartans. The Buckeyes have defeated Purdue while notching two wins apiece against defeated Wisconsin, Maryland, and Rutgers. They also have a resume-building victory against UCLA in non-conference play. With an 18-6 overall record, Ohio State ranks fourth in the current Associated Press poll.

The Buckeyes are third in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to the numbers at kenpom. They are 21st in free throw rate. Ohio State is 87th in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. Holtmann’s team has fallen to ninth in the Big Ten with an opponent's effective field goal percentage of 49.6%.

BookMaker lists Ohio State as a 3-point favorite with the total set at 157.0.

Computer prediction:  Ohio State 78 Iowa 75

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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