Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann continues to argue after being whistled for a technical foul during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan State Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
- The Ohio State Buckeyes (18-6, 12-6 Big Ten) host the Iowa Hawkeyes (17-7, 11-6 Big Ten) Sunday, Feb. 28
- Both teams are coming off disappointing losses this week
- Read below for odds, analysis, and our best bet for this matchup
The Ohio State Buckeyes (18-6, 12-6 Big Ten), who have lost consecutive games for the first time this season, host the Iowa Hawkeyes (17-7, 11-6 Big Ten) Sunday, Feb. 28 in Columbus. Tip is set for 4pm ET at Value City Arena.
Fran McCaffery’s club is coming off a 79-57 defeat in Ann Arbor Thursday that saw Player of the Year favorite Luka Garza struggle to a 16-point, four-rebound night on 6-for-19 shooting.
Meantime, Chris Holtmann missed the end of Ohio State’s 71-67 loss to Michigan State. The Buckeyes led by nine midway through the second half, and had a chance to either tie or win with 12 seconds left. But Duane Washington Jr.’s layup came up short and Sparty closed out the upset. Holtmann got into it with officials and was ejected.
Now, the Buckeyes hope to rebound from the four-point loss as slight favorites against the Hawkeyes Sunday.
Iowa vs Ohio State Odds
|Iowa||+2 (-110)||+116||Ov 160 (-110)|
|Ohio State||-2 (-110)||-136||Un 160 (-110)|
Odds taken Feb. 27 at FanDuel
Iowa shot 35.6% from the field against the Michigan while mustering only a 6-of-19 effort from 3-point range. Garza was shut down and the Hawkeyes managed a measly four assists for the entire game as a team. It was ugly.
But perhaps the most troubling developments for McCaffery’s ninth-ranked crew were a pair of injuries to key players.
Jack Nunge suffers season-ending injury: https://t.co/W2mZYUqAp3
“Jack was really playing well & making great strides this year before another unfortunate setback. He is beloved by his teammates & everyone in our program will support Jack during his recovery.” – Fran McCaffery pic.twitter.com/OMG1ShiA79
— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) February 26, 2021
Jack Nunge tore the meniscus in his right knee early in the first half and is done for the year after missing the majority of last season with a torn ACL in the same knee.
Meantime, starting guard Connor McCaffery — who is averaging 3.5 assists per game this season (ranking second on the team)– left the game prematurely after turning an ankle in the second half. McCaffery, the head coach’s son, did not re-enter the game. His status is uncertain for Sunday.
Iowa lost to Ohio State 89-85 in Iowa City Feb. 4. And if they can’t overcome poor shooting, worse distribution and tough injuries, the Hawkeyes will be swept by the Buckeyes this season.
Just Short … Again
OSU was on the losing end of an ultra-competitive affair against the same Maize and Blue squad that handled Iowa last Sunday. Then, Holtmann’s team dropped another close one to Michigan State Thursday. Two defeats by a combined nine points. The officiating in East Lansing didn’t do the Bucks any favors.
Izzo says “it was an absolute war in there,” adding he felt sorry for Holtmann because it was a physical game and neither happy with officiating.
— Chris Solari (@chrissolari) February 26, 2021
The team’s leading scorer, EJ Liddell — who is averaging 16.0 points per game — finished with 18, but on only 4-of-13 shooting. Washington scored 17 on 7-of-16 shooting. The combined 11-for-29 effort between OSU’s two studs likely needs to improve to ensure victory.
Also, senior forward Kyle Young — who averages 8.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game — missed the MSU game because of a concussion after bumping heads with a Michigan player in Sunday’s loss. It would help the Bucks’ cause tremendously if they’re able to get one of their veteran leaders back against the Hawkeyes.
Much to Play For
After losing two straight, Ohio State wants to snap its first two-game losing skid of the season. Meanwhile, Iowa had won four straight before Thursday’s loss at Michigan. But the manner in which the Wolverines beat the Hawkeyes — and the injuries Iowa absorbed — made the defeat seem worse than just one game. That’s what makes Sunday’s tilt so compelling.
I spent time reviewing what Hawks need for double bye in B1G tournament. Besides winning their own games, we need to root for Illinois against Wisconsin and OSU, and Wisconsin against Purdue. And now I want to vomit. pic.twitter.com/ld2ZOtXQSQ
— Chris Boo-urns (@NoCurmudgeon) February 27, 2021
OSU is looking to snag a double-bye in the upcoming Big Ten tournament. which is awarded to the top four teams in the conference standings. Currently, the Buckeyes sit in third place behind only Michigan and Illinois, and are a half game ahead of Iowa with a full game up on Purdue. A home loss to the Hawkeyes could possibly change all that.
You want to be as well-rested as possible and play as few games as possible in the Big Ten tourney — especially this season due to the quality of the conference. That’s why, even though Iowa still has a lot riding on this one, Sunday’s game is more important to the Buckeyes. And that’s why they’re my pick.
The pick: Ohio State -2 (-110)
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.