The Ohio State men’s basketball team has won consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 29, 2022 and Jan. 1, 2023. Between the 73-57 win over Northwestern on New Year’s Day and last Sunday’s 72-60 win over Illinois, the Buckeyes had only won a single game — a 93-77 victory over Iowa on Jan. 21. However, Chris Holtmann’s squad has seemingly begun to get a little bit of its early-season swagger back as the regular-season finale approaches this afternoon.
At 12 noon ET, the Buckeyes will take on the Michigan State Spartans, and according to the DraftKings SportsBook, Sparty is a 7.5-point favorite. Tom Izzo’s team comes into its Senior Day having lost two of its last four and still dealing with the horrific tragedy that befell the entire campus in East Lansing last month.
The total points number that DraftKings is giving comes in at 140. Thirty-seven points under what these two teams put up three weeks ago. But, the Buckeyes have put up over 70 in each of their last three games, and MSU has scored at least 80 in its last three outings — including a 112-106 loss to Iowa a week ago today.
If you’re interested in betting the Buckeyes to win straight-up, their moneyline comes in at +250, meaning that if you put down $100 on Ohio State to win, you’ll profit $250 (and if you put $1,000,000 on OSU, you’ll pocket a cool $2.5 million. And, if you are going to make a bet on the Buckeyes of that size, please reach out, because I’d love to talk to you about that.
Conversely, if you wanted to take Michigan State regardless of the spread, they are at -300. So, you would need to put $300 on the line in order to win $100.
The Spartans could still theoretically finish as high as No. 2 in the Big Ten standings, despite the fact that their game against the bottom-dwelling Minnesota Golden Gophers will not be made up, having been canceled in the aftermath of the mass shooting on MSU’s campus. Nonetheless, if Izzo and company want to maintain a shot at a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament, they will need to beat the Buckeyes for the second time this year.
On Feb. 12, Michigan State beat OSU 62-41, so given the fact that this game will be played in the Breslin Center, the Buckeyes being only 7.5-point dogs is actually kind of a sign that the bookmakers in Vegas still have some semblance of respect for what Holtmann’s team is capable of.
Following victories over Illinois (72-60) and No. 21 Maryland (73-62), the Bucks are playing a more competitive, full-court style of basketball than they did for the first six weeks of the season. With starting center Zed Key out for the year with a shoulder injury, and the season effectively a lost cause at this point, Holtmann has pivoted to getting as much run for his freshman as possible, and it’s paid off.
Over the last two games, the four freshmen have combined to average 37 points per game, more than half of the team’s total points. The new-found energy also seems to have sparked something in senior Justice Sueing who has gone for 30 points over the last two games along with 17 rebounds and only a single turnover.
Now, I’ve jokingly said that no one wants to play the Buckeyes at this point in the season, and obviously, given the choice of playing OSU or Purdue (or Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Northwestern, Iowa, Michigan, basically any B1G team other than Minnesota), you’d take the Buckeyes. But, they are a lot more cohesive and productive team right now than they were from Jan. 5 through Feb. 23.
So, while the 7.5 points feels like a very fair number for Michigan State to be laying, don’t be surprised if Ohio State spoils the Spartans’ Senior Day festivities this afternoon.