NCAA Basketball Pick: Tournament Play of the Day Saturday

LT Profits Sports Group

Saturday, March 15, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 15, 2014 4:00 AM UTC

Every day this NCAA post-season, LT Profits Sports seeks one single tournament play that has the best chance of cashing. Here is their Tournament Play of the Day Saturday.

There could be an upset in the first semifinal of the Big Ten Conference Tournament Saturday when a team looking to redeem itself for a disappointing regular season, the Ohio State Buckeyes (25-8, 8-5 away/neutral), takes on the Michigan Wolverines (24-7, 11-5 away/neutral) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN at 1:40 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS.

The point spread at Bet365 has Ohio State as a modest underdog for this contest with the current line at +3 with odds of -110.

Ohio State had a disappointing regular season for a team that was ranked in the top 10 in many preseason polls at 23-8, but the Buckeyes are trying to redeem themselves by winning this Big Ten Tournament as they beat Purdue in the first round and rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to beat Nebraska on Friday to advance to these semifinals.

Somewhat oddly, Michigan was only one-half game worse than Ohio State during the regular season at 23-7 after the Wolverines advanced all the way to the NCAA National Championship Game last season, and yet while the Ohio State season was considered a disappointment, Michigan entered this tournament ranked eighth in the country on the AP poll and as a projected two-seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament by many bracketologists.

Perhaps the skepticism about Ohio State was because many of their losses came in a short time as the Buckeyes had a terrible stretch where they lost five out of six games following a 15-0 start, and then two road losses at Penn State and Indiana did not help matters. The Buckeyes also lost at home 70-60 to these Wolverines in their only regular season encounter, as these teams did not play home-and-home like they have most years in the past.

The Buckeyes are doing their best to make people forget about that regular season though, and they still boast one of the best defenses in the country, ranking third in defensive efficiency and 20th in effective field goal percentage, a percentage keyed by ranking second in three-point defense at a measly 28.5 percent, which is crucial vs. a good three-point shooting team like Michigan.

Which brings us to the regular season meeting, where Ohio State actually suffocated the Wolverines on the interior, holding Michigan to just 38.9 percent shooting (14-for-36) on its two-point attempts, but the game was decided by Michigan going 8-for-17, 47.1 percent beyond the arc while the Buckeyes made went 3-for-20 from three-point land.

Michigan barely got by the Illinois Fighting Illini 64-63 yesterday as Jordan Morgan scored the winning basket with eight seconds left. They won that squeaker despite shooting just 44.7 percent from the floor for the game, as they were again bailed out by hitting 10 three-pointers, and they did that on a whopping 30 attempts (33.3 percent).

If you believe in the old adage that “good defense stops good offense”, and we do, then do not expect the Wolverines to match their three-point shooting of the regular season meeting vs. what is statistically the second best three-point defense in the country, and Michigan is vulnerable when it is not making threes as its defense ranks only 98th in efficiency and 158th in effective field goal percentage allowed.

Look for Ohio State to put the clamps on the Michigan three-point shooters this time around and advance to the Big Ten Championship Game with a mini-upset on Saturday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Ohio State +3 (-110)

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