The Big Ten tips off its conference slate with four college basketball odds battles on Tuesday, including the Iowa Hawkeyes taking a trip to meet the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Just as the preamble is to the US Constitution, so have the last seven weeks served the 2014-15 college basketball betting season. Sure, there have been a few marquee matchups to whet the appetite of fans and sate television, but all of that has just been hors d'oeuvres for the entree about to be served up with the start of conference schedules.
All of that, of course, leads to dessert next April in Indianapolis, site of the Final Four and NCAA Men's Championship.
A few conferences are already underway with their league slates, and the Big Six join them this week. The Big Ten starts to go head-to-head on Tuesday with four contests, the battle in Columbus between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Iowa Hawkeyes among the early games with a 1 PM (ET) tip at Value City Arena.
SBR's live NCAA basketball odds is showing Ohio State at -9, that spread up a half since the opener, and 139 for the scoreboard barrier.
Teams Swap Road Upsets On 2013-14 Schedule
It's about as even a series as one can find over the years, Ohio State owning a slim 77-76 overall edge. The Buckeyes do have a commanding 47-27 advantage in Columbus, but home court didn't help them at all last season.
In fact, playing at home didn't help either team in their two matchups on the 2013-14 schedule. Iowa posted an 84-74 win at Value City Arena where the Hawkeyes were 6½ point underdogs, OSU returning the favor a few weeks later in Iowa City, 76-69 on a +6 line. Both games went 'over' totals in the upper-130s, halting a string of 3-straight 'unders' in the series.
Iowa's win in Columbus last season was rare, but covering college basketball odds on OSU's floor has become the norm for the Hawkeyes. The Buckeyes had won seven consecutive home games vs. Iowa before the lass last January, but Hawkeye backers have cashed tickets on four of the past five trips.
Poor Shooting Holding Hawkeyes Back
Beating spreads this season has so far proven tougher for Fran McCaffery's squad. Iowa has managed to cover just three of its nine lined games to date, and failed as the favorite in the last three of those. A big part of the problem has been the inability to put the rock in the basket as the Hawkeyes are hitting just 40.7% of field goal attempts, 278th nationally and above only Rutgers among Big Ten Teams.
If not for the solid effort at the charity stripe and defense, Iowa would be in trouble. The Hawkeyes are fifth in the country sinking 77.5% of their free-throw attempts, averaging more than 16 points per game from the line, and holding teams to under 59 PPG, good enough to rank in the top 40.
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Thad Matta's troops have had no trouble finding the net so far. Ohio State is connecting on nearly 53% of field goal attempts, fourth in the country, hitting 54.5% or better in five of its last six.
The Buckeyes did have trouble, however, against North Carolina just before Christmas, dropping an 82-74 decision in Chicago to the Tar Heels who were favored by one. That's the same UNC team Iowa trumped 60-55 in Chapel Hill to open play in December, a game the Heels were laying 7½.
This matchup is likely to come down to how tight the officials call it, especially inside. Both the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes are going to drive or pass inside to try and draw contact, and if the refs let 'em play, Iowa could be in bad shape relying on outside shots alone. Put me down for a free NCAA basketball pick on the low side of the total.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Iowa-Ohio State Under 139 at Pinnacle
Season: 5-12 (-8.20)