College Basketball Pick
Bronson Koenig returned for Wisconsin on Sunday and the Badgers got back on track with a win against Maryland. The Badgers are fighting with Purdue for the Big Ten’s regular season title, but have to travel in their next two, starting Thursday at Ohio State. The Buckeyes may not be having a good season, but they can at least compete due to experience, especially in Columbus. They already have home wins against Michigan State, Minnesota and Michigan.
Wisconsin has been far from reliable on the road and Koenig still isn’t completely healthy, so that could definitely play a factor. Then again, these teams met in early January and the Badgers absolutely dominated in an 89-66 win in Madison. Also, Koenig played 31 minutes on Sunday, so all signs point to him being fine. Wisconsin surprisingly got production from everyone in that first Game, but arguably its best player Ethan Happ, had just six points. But on the road, Wisconsin has had its issues.
The Badgers lost at Michigan last week (without Koenig) and needed overtime in road wins over Nebraska, Rutgers and Minnesota. The Buckeyes aren’t good, but no one is calling the Huskers or SCarlet Knights elite teams, either. If OSU at least shows some fight, this could turn into a good Game. However, the Bucks have lost three straight and are coming off a last-second home loss to Nebraska. But while they’ve lost Four Games at home in Big Ten play, all of them were by six points or less. again, those were earlier in the season with a little more motivation and it’s hard to predict where this team’s mindset will be, especially considering JaQuan Lyle isn’t completely healthy.
At the least, Ohio State has the guys that can compete whether it’s Jae’Sean Tate and Marc Loving or the ever-inconsistent Kam Williams and Trevor Thompson. Thompson was good in the first meeting and will be asked to keep Happ in check, but what will the rest of the defense do? The Bucks don’t have anyone that can deal with Hayes’s versatility unless Loving really steps up and holds his ground when Hayes goes in the paint.
Wisconsin was on its Game the first time these teams met, but that hasn’t happened often this season. As long as Ohio State comes to play, this should be a close Game. Koenig dominated the last matchup and will be the first person Lyle will have to stop, which isn’t inconceivable. Loving has been the one stepping up more as of late for Ohio State and even though it hasn’t led to wins, he’s playing better than earlier in the year. With a slower Hayes on him, the path is there for success even after scoring five points in that first meeting.
Every sign points to the Badgers being better at every level in this Game and it could be a blow out, but if the Buckeyes still have any kind of motivation, they’ll compete in this Game. And that’s the main reason why betting Wisconsin will be harder than previously thought.
Our Pick – Ohio St +7