Free NCAA Basketball Picks for Iowa vs. Ohio State

Willie Bee

Sunday, January 12, 2014 12:52 PM GMT

Each looking to keep pace with three unbeatens at the top of the Big Ten standings, the Iowa Hawkeyes and Ohio State Buckeyes collide Sunday in the day's only matchup of ranked teams.

CBS will televise the clash with the tip at Value City Arena in Columbus scheduled for a few minutes past 1:30 PM (ET). Ohio State went out as 7.5 point chalk on the overnight numbers, with the spread cut by to -7 or -6.5 by Sunday morning.  The total should be released a little later Sunday morning, leaving little time for bettors to get down on that action. SBR's live college basketball odds will have the scoreboard tally just as soon as it becomes available.

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Thad Matta's Buckeyes have won the last eight meetings between the two schools to inch ahead of Iowa in the all-time series, 76-75. That mark includes Ohio State winning 47 of the 73 previous matchups in Columbus.

The teams were pitted against each other just once last season, also at Value City Arena, and the Buckeyes who built a big lead before closing with a 72-63 decision. Ohio State was up by 24 with nearly 13 minutes to play in the second half, but Iowa caught fire at that point to tighten the gap with a 20-4 run. The Hawkeyes' late surge cost Buckeye backers who were laying 10.5 points; the final score fell just short of a 137.5 total.

Make sure to check out our NCAA Basketball Betting: 2013-14 Conference Power Rankings

Minus McCaffery, Iowa Cruises Past Northwestern

Fran McCaffery wasn't in his usual seat along the sidelines to see it happen, but his squad made a quick return to the win column on Thursday with an easy 93-67 win over Northwestern. Favored by 17.5 at home, Iowa (13-3 straight up, 9-5 against the spread) rolled behind double-double's from the frontcourt duo of Aaron White (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Melsahn Basabe (16 & 10).

McCaffery was serving a suspension after his meltdown in the Hawkeyes' 75-71 loss at Wisconsin a week ago, but will be back diagramming the X's and O's vs. OSU.

That setback to the Badgers was the third of the season for Iowa, but the Hawkeyes are only a few breaks here and there from being undefeated. The three defeats came to teams (Villanova, Wisconsin, Iowa State) that are a combined 46-2 following Saturday's action, with the 5-point overtime loss to 'Nova the biggest point differential.

Iowa ranks in the top 10 nationally in scoring (86.5 ppg), rebounding (45.1 rpg) and assists (17.6 apg), but a stat often overlooked is how much scoring the Hawkeyes are doing from the charity stripe. Sinking 72% of their free throws, 22 points of that 86.5 scoring clip are the result of getting to the line. However, in all three losses, Iowa was outscored at the free-throw line.

Buckeyes Look To Bounce Back From Only Loss

Matta's troops will be looking to bounce back from their first loss of the campaign after opening with 15 straight wins. Ohio State (15-1 SU, 9-6 ATS) did its best to rally on the road at No. 5 Michigan State, but fell 72-68 in overtime as a 4.5 point underdog. It was the fourth straight cover for Buckeye backers, and the extra play helped 'over' backers to a third straight winning ticket after OSU's previous three games failed to reach the total.

Turnovers did the Buckeyes in at East Lansing. The 21 giveaways, 12 of them unforced, were a season-high for Ohio State -- 16 in the season opener vs. Morgan State had been the most -- and nearly double what the Buckeyes are averaging over the course of the campaign. Three of the turnovers came in a 2-minute stretch late in the first half, and the Spartans turned them into seven quick points to break away from a 21-all tie at the time.

Both teams have done a good job at the window recently with Iowa 5-1 ATS in its last six lined games and Ohio State covering its last four. I like a close game in the end and will offer up the Hawkeyes plus the points for my free college basketball pick.

College Basketball Pick: Iowa +7 at Bet365