The Ohio State Buckeyes will play the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round of the Big Ten tournament Wednesday night. Ohio State heads into the contest as a one point favorite, despite having a worse record and falling to the Badgers 65-60 just a month ago in Columbus. However, I expect this line to continue to climb, potentially even touching -2.5 by tip off.

Ohio State (57) ranks 15 spots ahead of Wisconsin (72) in Kenpom. Ohio State ranks dead last in the nation with a Kenpom luck ranking of 363. Meanwhile Wisconsin ranks 160 with a +0.10 luck ranking in Kenpom. Following nine straight losses the Buckeyes won two of their last three to end the year, winning by double digits against both Illinois and Maryland.

Battling on the Boards

The Buckeyes offense matches up quite well with the Wisconsin defense that will shoulder the majority of the load in this contest. Ohio State’s offense has been rolling recently, clearing the 70 point mark in each of their last four contests. Much of this is thanks to freshman forward Brice Sensabaugh who is averaging 16.5 PPG this year on 48.1% shooting. He has reached the 20 point mark in three of his last five games. Wisconsin’s defense ranks in the top 75 in just about every major statistical category, but if there’s one place where they can be beaten it is on the boards. The Badger defense ranks 120th in offensive rebounding and the Buckeye offense ranks 36th in Offensive rebounding. Looking at their last matchup Ohio State outrebounded Wisconsin 45-26, dominating particularly on the offensive glass where the Buckeyes had 12 boards to just four for the Badgers. The major difference in the contest was turnovers. The Buckeyes had 16 and the Badgers had just 8. Over their last five games Ohio State has dropped that number down to just 7.4 turnovers per game. When the OSU offense is getting shots up they’re quite good ranking 44th overall in field goal percentage.

The Side

In a contest where I expect for luck to be on Ohio State’s side and for their offense to continue to improve (particularly in the turnover margin), I will ride with the Buckeyes on the moneyline at -125. This is a strong spot to back the Buckeyes in a revenge game as a short favorite. I expect for Ohio State to receive some sharp action and potentially be a need for the book in what could end up being a pros v. joes contest. The numbers back Ohio state being favored. I would take the moneyline all the way up to -140.

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