Although Sunday’s college hoops slate only features five ranked programs in action, this game includes two of them — No. 6 Purdue and No. 16 Ohio State. Let’s break down my college basketball best bets for the Big Ten matchup.
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No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 6 Purdue Boilermakers
Matt Painter’s team sits 11 spots ahead of the Buckeyes in my college basketball power ratings, but the storyline heading into the game is the status of Ohio State point guard Jamari Wheeler (foot). The Penn State grad transfer didn’t suit up in Thursday’s win over Minnesota. He’s tallied 60.0% of the minutes at the lead guard spot and represents a defensive ballhawk.
Reports are optimistic about his status despite being listed as a game-time decision. If he suits up, he’ll give Chris Holtmann yet another floor-spacer against Purdue’s susceptible 3-point defense.
The Boilermakers’ ball-screen coverage has held them back throughout the season, and their backcourt struggles to limit opposing guards off the dribble too. Zach Edey and Trevion Williams are both sound interior scorers, yet perimeter-oriented offenses have excelled when they force either of them to defend the arc. In turn, they’ve surrendered the 27th-highest 3-point scoring rate in the country.
While Iowa failed to complete its second-half comeback in Thursday’s loss to Purdue, the frontcourt combination of Keegan and Kris Murray was a difficult matchup for Painter’s crew. If Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffrey didn’t limit the former’s first-half minutes because of foul trouble, there might’ve been a different outcome.
Holtmann’s starting five features a non-shooter in Zed Key, but he frequently shifts to Kyle Young (34.4%) alongside Wooden Award candidate E.J. Liddell (). Overall, the Buckeyes excel at both catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble 3s, and they’re tallying a top-110 scoring rate in that department.
After a red-hot start to the season, can Liddell, #32, climb back atop the Wooden Award race?
Now, each team has dealt with turnover issues in conference play. But Holtmann’s pack-line scheme is the one that can actually expose the liability, especially if Wheeler suits up.
With the Boilermakers still overvalued in the market, there’s value in the road underdog. The Buckeyes aren’t properly priced — even if Meechie Johnson Jr. runs the show — because of their ability to battle Purdue on the glass.
College Basketball Best Bets: Ohio State +10 (-110)
Best Available Line: OSU