WHO: #14 Ohio State Spartans (21-5, 12-1 B1G) | KenPom #12
WHEN: 5:00 PM CT
WHERE: Value City Arena (Columbus, OH)
RADIO: Learfield Sports affiliates
ONLINE AUDIO: TuneIn
VEGAS: Ohio State -14.5
The first time Iowa and Ohio State met this season, shortly after New Year's, we entered the game with some hope -- memories of Iowa's recent five-game winning streak in December were still fresh in our minds. We enter this game with some hope, too -- Iowa enters on a two-game losing streak, but their performance against Michigan State in Tuesday's 96-93 loss was maybe their best of the season. They came up short in their first outing against OSU, losing 92-81 at Carver, when Iowa was never able to come back from a red-hot Ohio State start.
Ohio State hasn't really let up since then -- they're 12-1 in league play, atop the standings, and the surprise success story of the season. They're fresh off an impressive 64-63 win over Purdue, which ended Purdue's unbeaten record in Big Ten play and 19-game winning streak. The Buckeyes' only loss in league play came at home against Penn State a few weeks ago and it took an absolutely bananas finish for them to go down.
INSANE FINISH IN COLUMBUS!
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) January 26, 2018
Ohio State is very, very good and it will take an excellent performance from Iowa to beat them. The question we have is: which Iowa team shows up for this game? The Iowa team that barely lost to Michigan State was truly impressive (albeit with some of the normal Iowa defensive shortcomings); if Iowa had played with that level of skill and effort all season, they'd have more than three Big Ten wins this year. But stringing together strong performances has been a big problem for Iowa this season and road games have been especially hazardous for Iowa. They followed up wins over Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota with double-digits losses to Rutgers, Purdue, and Penn State. They're 1-5 on the road in league play and those five losses have come by an average of 15 points per game. So there are a whole lot of trends against Iowa in this one.
But if the Michigan State game really was a turning point for this team, if it really is a sign of things to come in the final five games of the year... well, then there's reason to hope. And hope beats despair and resigned expectations of beatdowns. So come on, Hawks: give us something to cheer about as the season winds down.
The usual rules apply.