NCAA Basketball Pick: Iowa +11 over Ohio State

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 5:00 AM UTC

Ohio State is one of the best teams in the land, but Iowa has the defense to apply pressure on the Buckeyes leading scorer Deshaun Thomas, and that could be enough to cover.

One of the better teams in the country may have its hands full at home on Tuesday night when the pesky Iowa Hawkeyes (13-5, 1-2 away) pay a visit to those Ohio State Buckeyes (13-4, 10-1 home) at Value City Arena in Columbus, OH at 6:30 ET in a game televised nationally on the Big Ten Network.

The point spread at Bookmaker Sportsbook has Iowa as a big road underdog for this contest with the current line at +11 with odds of -110.

Ohio State is ranked 14th in the national polls and 10th on the Pomeroy Ratings overall, but one bothersome aspect of its 13-4 record is that the Buckeyes are 1-4 vs. teams ranked in the Pomeroy Top 60 and 12-0 vs. teams ranked worse than 60th. That is a valid concern as a double-digit favorite tonight vs. an Iowa team that is creeping up the Pomeroy Rankings, now at 28th overall.

Schedule aside, the Buckeyes are well balanced overall ranking 19th in offensive efficiency and eighth in defensive efficiency, and Deshaun Thomas is starting to loom as a darkhorse Player of the Year candidate, emerging from the shadows after playing third fiddle behind the departed Jared Sullinger and William Buford last year to lead Ohio State in scoring (20.8 per game), rebounding (6.6) and field goal percentage (47.2) this season.

The 6-foot-7 forward has even stepped out to hit 42.0 percent (47-for-112) of his three-point attempts this year. However, Thomas has been a one-man gang on offense as the second leading Buckeye scorer has been Lenzelle Smith Jr. at 10.1 points per game, but most of that came vs. weaker non-conference opponents as he has averaged a measly 5.0 points the last four Big Ten games.

In the last two Ohio State contests, Thomas scored 20 points vs. the Michigan Wolverines, but the rest of the team scored only 36 in the narrow 56-53 home win for the Buckeyes’ only win over the Pomeroy Top 60, and then the imbalance was even more glaring last game at Michigan State vs. the Spartan when Thomas’s 28 points matched the output of the rest of the Ohio State team in a 59-56 defeat!

Iowa is very well aware of this and, more importantly, the Hawkeyes rank an excellent 26th in the country in defensive efficiency themselves, so look for them to throw constant pressure and double-teams at Thomas to force some other Ohio State player to step up offensively.

Iowa began the Big Ten season 0-3, but the Hawkeyes have won two straight games since a narrow 62-59 loss to Michigan State including a nice 70-66 win Saturday over a Wisconsin team that beat Indiana on the road earlier last week and is ranked 15th by Pomeroy.

The Hawkeyes rank 28th in the nation in field goal percentage allowed and 21st in three-point defense, so as long as they keep Thomas reasonably in check, they should be in an excellent position to stay within single-digits in this contest on Tuesday.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Iowa +11 (-110)

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