Nebraska at Ohio State -12 O/U 139.5
Emergence of the Buckeyes as a legitimate contender for the Big Ten title is as surprising as anything across the college basketball landscape this season but it’s not a fluke. Ohio State is an amazingly cohesive a group on each end of the floor with PF Keita Bates-Diop (19.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg) leading the way. OSU currently sits inside the Top 30 in Ken Pom’s offensive (28th) and defensive (11th) efficiency ratings and they are 8-0 straight up and against the spread in league play. They’ve posted a +16.1 ppg margin (77.9-61.8) along with a +12.7 FG% margin (51.0%-38.3%) effective FG% in those six games. The drawback to Ohio State’s impressive conference numbers could be the schedule thus far which has only seen them play two teams (Michigan and Michigan State) with above .500 Big Ten records.
Nebraska has surprised as well and despite being labeled as a dominant home team (11-1 SU at home, 3-6 away), it’s important to note that they’re 3-1 ATS on the road (6-2 overall) in Big Ten play. Stingy defense combined with controlled tempo are again the Cornhuskers calling cards with their 27.6 3pt % allowed currently #1 in the conference. That’s a key fundamental matchup tonight against Ohio State’s trio of excellent three point shooters (SG Kam Williams 48.5%, PG CJ Jackson 41.2%, Diop 37.6%). Their struggles on the defensive boards will be key as well (#334 in D1) against the bigger and aggressive Ohio State front line.
Chris Holtmann has brought his defensive brand of basketball to Columbus and it’s really started to show the past couple weeks. Ohio State has not allowed any of the last five opponents to reach 70 points. That may be where the difference in this game lies since Nebraska has allowed 74+ in three of their four conference games. Ohio State’s efficiency and team play on the offensive end figures to get them 70+ here. ‘Huskers 57 and 62 point road performances vs Michigan State (Big Ten #3 in defensive efficiency) and Purdue (#1) indicate they could have trouble keeping vs #2 ranked Ohio State. That being said, they are +12 tonight and Purdue in West Lafayette beat them by exactly that number 74-62. Buckeyes are 208 O/U at home this season and Nebraska is 2-4 O/U on the road. Combine that with the expected limited amount of possessions (Ohio State 66 or less last four games and Nebraska 66 or less 3 of last 4) and this one should also fall under the total.