Ohio State Looking to Spoil Senior Day at Big Ten Rival Michigan

Rainman M.

Sunday, February 18, 2018 12:59 PM UTC

Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018 12:59 PM UTC

No. 22 Michigan hosts No. 8 Ohio State today (1 p.m. ET, CBS) and is the home favorite. Will the Wolverines celebrate Senior Day with a win and cover, or can the Buckeyes pull the upset?

Sunday College Basketball: Ohio State vs. Michigan

Free NCAAB Pick: Ohio State +3.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Literally speaking, No. 22 Michigan (21-7 SU, 16-10-1 ATS) needs to be good enough to win by at least four points to cover the number on the college basketball odds board. But practically speaking, Michigan needs to be even better because of two factors that help the underdog today. For one, Michigan is an awful free-throw shooting team, ranking 341st in free -throw shooting percentage. Conversely, No. 8 Ohio State (22-6 SU, 14-12 ATS) ranks 85th in the category and UM ranks 10th in the Big Ten in opposing proportion of free throws attempted. Secondly, both teams like to play at a slow tempo, ranking outside the top 200 in adjusted tempo. A slower game tempo will probably decrease the number of possessions in the game, which gives the favored team fewer opportunities to win by enough points to cover.

So bettors should really like Michigan before laying chalk with them with their NCAAB picks, but I don’t think UM deserves bettors’ confidence today. Michigan’ ATS success is significantly dependent on its ability to force turnovers. It is 5-0-1 ATS in conference play when forcing 13+ turnovers. Ohio State, however, is a ball-secure team, ranking fourth in the conference in turnover rate. Two Buckeyes who lead the team in percentage of possessions involved in, big men Keita Bates-Diop and center Kaleb Wesson, rank in the top 200 in turnover rate.

Ohio State’s ball-security is crucial to keeping momentum in a road environment. Its offense revolves around the individual abilities of its playmakers. Bates-Diop and Wesson rank in the top 250 in KenPom’s offensive rating. The former leads the team with 19.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. When the teams met on December 4 — a 71-62 Ohio State win at home — Bates-Diop led all players with 18 points and nine rebounds. He possesses the kind of strength and versatility around the rim that has repeatedly disturbed Michigan’s defense, such as in the form of UNC’s Luke Maye and Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ.

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Bates-Diop, Wesson and guard/forward Jae’Sean Tate are major reasons OSU ranks first in the Big 10 in two-point percentage. All three rank in the top 350 in the category. Tate and Wesson, like Bates-Diop, also average over 10 points per game and combined for 22 points in the first matchup. Michigan’s defense ranks 10th in the Big 10 in opposing two-point percentage and allows the third-highest distribution of points inside the arc. Michigan’s defense is vulnerable to the strength of OSU’s offense.

UM’s offense will focus on three-point shooting. OSU does not guard the perimeter well and UM relies heavily on the three-ball. Whereas OSU is top-ranked in executing inside the arc, UM ranks sixth in three-point percentage. It lacks a player in the top 350 of three-point shooting percentage. Expect too many one-and-done drives from UM, which ranks 13th in the Big Ten in offensive rebounding while OSU is the Big Ten’s second-best defensive rebounding team. Bates-Diop ranks 38th in defensive rebounding percentage and Tate ranks 435th.

Bettors who are tempted to back UM on Senior Day should know that too much emotion can be a bad thing, too. But there is an indication that today is a good spot for OSU, which loves to take out the frustration of a loss on its next conference opponent. OSU is 2-0 ATS against Big 10 teams after a SU loss.

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