NCAA Thursday Night Basketball: Ohio State/Iowa Preview

by Big Al Staff

A college basketball showdown between two Big Ten teams ranked in the top-eight teams in the country takes place on ESPN at 7 PM ET.

Ohio State has won three straight after defeating Michigan State, 79-62, as a 4-point favorite on Sunday. E.J. Liddell led the team with 20 points. The sophomore has scored at least 20 points in four of his last five games. He leads a team that can go eleven deep on their bench with a 15.3 points-per-game scoring average.

Head coach 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 was the starting point guard at Utah State. Justice Sueing scored 14.6 points-per-game as a sophomore at California. Seth Towns is 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. Yet Holtmann has seen his team win six of their last seven games to rise to fourth place in the highly-competitive conference with an 8-4 record. Ohio State has lost to Minnesota, Northwestern, and twice to Purdue. The Buckeyes have defeated Wisconsin, Illinois, and Rutgers twice. They also have a resume-building victory against UCLA in non-conference play. With a 14-4 overall record, Ohio State ranks seventh in the current Associated Press poll.

The Buckeyes are fourth in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to the numbers at kenpom. They are 19th in free throw rate. Ohio State is just 66th in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. Holtmann’s team is second in the Big Ten by holding their opponents to 29.7% shooting from 3-point land.

Iowa improved their record to 13-4 on Tuesday in an 84-78 victory against Michigan State as a 9.5-point favorite. Luka Garza led the way with 27 points and 12 rebounds. The senior All-American is scoring 26.5 points-per-game while adding 8.8 rebounds-per-game.

Head coach Fran McCaffery returned all five starters while getting three additional players back from injury from the team that finished 20-11. These Hawkeyes are ranked 8th in the nation by the AP with a 13-4 record. Iowa has high-profile wins against Purdue, Rutgers, and North Carolina. Their four losses are against Gonzaga, Minnesota, Indiana, and Illinois. They are in third place in the Big Ten with a 7-3 record.

The Hawkeyes are the number one team in the nation adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They make 38.2% of their 3-point shots, 29th, while posting an effective field goal percentage of 55.9%, 17th in the country. But Iowa is only 117th in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They allow their opponents to make 35.5% of their 3-point shots, 248th.

Iowa hosts this game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, where they are 10-1 while scoring 90.8 points-per-game. Ohio State is 5-3 on the road.

BookMaker lists Iowa as a 5.5-point favorite with the total set at 156.5.

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

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