Johnny Davis dunks over defender

Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis (1) dunks against Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

  • Ohio State is a 4.5-point favorite over Wisconsin on Saturday
  • Wisconsin is 8-1, 7-2 ATS
  • Read below for analysis and a betting prediction

No. 21 Ohio State (7-2) is a 4.5-point home favorite over Wisconsin in a Big Ten game Saturday 12pm ET on the Big Ten Network.

The Buckeyes are the only team to have beaten No. 3 Duke this season, taking a 71-66 home victory behind Eric Liddell’s double-double Nov. 30.

No. 22 Wisconsin (8-1) overcame a 22-point deficit to win and cover its last time out in a 64-59 home victory against Indiana on Wednesday. The Badgers were favored by 4.5 points.

Wisconsin vs Ohio State Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Total
Wisconsin Badgers +158 +4.5 (-110) Over 136.5 (-110)
Ohio State Buckeyes -192 -4.5 (-110) Under 136.5 (-110)

Odds from FanDuel on Dec. 10

Wisconsin tied a school record for the largest deficit overcome in the victory over against Indiana, which led 42-20 late in the first half and was up 18 with 18 minutes to play.

Wisconsin scored the final 11 points and outscored the Hoosiers 16-2 in the final six minutes to win and cover. It was the largest deficit overcome by an NCAA Division I team this season.

Wisconsin Badgers Outlook

Wisconsin sophomore 6-foot-5 guard Johnny Davis, the Badgers’ sixth man as a freshman a year ago, has had a breakout season in his first year as a starter. He leads the Badgers in scoring (20.5), rebounding (6.0), assists 2.3 and steals (1.4) in almost 33 minutes per game. His game includes range — shooting 46% from the field, 40% from three-point distance.

The Badgers’ only loss, a 63-58 home setback Providence 63-58 on Nov. 15, came without Davis, who was out with a heel injury.

Davis, who averaged 7.0 points and 4.1 rebounds  in 24.3 minutes a game last year, has scored in double figures in all eight games he has played. He had a career-high 30 points with four three-pointers against Houston and had 25 points in an 89-76 victory over  Marquette on Warriors’ coach Marcus Smart’s return to Madison.

His corner jumper with 1:09 remaining  against Indiana put the Badgers ahead for good against. Perimeter threat Brad Davison is averaging 15 points and 4.4 rebounds a game and has made a team-high 22 threes.

Buckeyes Step Up

Forward Eric Liddell has continued his all-conference caliber play this season as has received some unexpected help from second-year freshman forward Zed Key, whose play in the paint have given the Buckeyes a strong, physical 1-2 punch on the inside in the absence of key contributor Justine Sueing.

Junior 6-foot-7, 240-pound Liddell is averaging 19.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 54.1% from the field and  6-foot-8, 245-pound Key is averaging 10.3 points and 5.0 rebounds.

Sixth man Kyle Young, one of seven Buckeyes who is averaging at least 10 minutes per game,  is averaging 10.6 points and 5.8 rebounds. Young has led the team in scoring the last two games with 16 points against Penn State and 18 against Towson State while going 6-of-6 from distance.

Sueing, who averaged 10.7 points and  5.7 rebounds a year ago, played the first two games of the season before being sidelined by an abdominal injury. For its girth inside, Ohio State is only plus-1.8 in rebound margin.

Comeback Badgers

Wisconsin’s comeback against Indiana was the latest in what has become a season-long trend for a young group that has had no difficulty replacing the six seniors from the 2021 NCAA tournament team. Two starters returned.

The Badgers overcame a 16-point deficit to beat Texas A&M 69-58 in the first round of the holiday Maui Invitational in Las Vegas and overcame a 10-point deficit to beat Saint Mary’s 61-55 in the finals. In between, the Badgers opened a 20-point lead against No. 12 Houston before hanging for 65-63 win in the semis.

The Badgers played without three reserves against Indiana but received a strong contribution from 7-foot-1 Chris Vogt, a graduate transfer from Cincinnati. Vogt, who made 50 starts for the Bearcats the last two season, had  nine points and six rebounds, four on the offensive glass.

Wisconsin does not win with offense. It is shooting only 40.8% from the field, 300th in NCAA Division I, but is holding opponents to 39.2% and is averaging two more rebounds and four fewer turnovers per game. The Badgers are holding opponents to 59.1 points per game have a plus-10.8 scoring margin.

Wisconsin vs Ohio State Pick

Ohio State is 4-5 ATS, 2-3 at home. Wisconsin is 6-3 straight up and ATS in the last nine in the seasons series. Ohio State won the game in Madison last year but the Badgers have won and covered the last two in Columbus and three of the last four anywhere.

Wisconsin is No. 19 in the NCAA net rankings and is 3-0 against Quad 1 opponents. Ohio State is 25th but ranks higher in KenPom efficiency than the Badgers (20 vs 26). The Buckeyes are seventh in KenPom in offensive efficiency. Wisconsin is 15th in defensive efficiency.

The Buckeyes seem to rise to a challenge, having beaten the best two teams they have played thus far in Duke and Seton Hall. Wisconsin is in that category, but it is not time to buck the Badgers given their early play.

The pick: Wisconsin +4.5 (-110)

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Jack Magruder

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