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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, March 7, 2015 at 7:00 PM

You don’t often see the school that won the National Championship in college football make a serious run at the same trophy in college basketball. The stars really have to align for that. But, the Ohio State Buckeyes certainly find themselves in position to follow up a football celebration with a deep postseason run. They’ll have a chance to show what they’re made of Sunday at home against Big Ten Champion Wisconsin in a game that will be nationally televised by CBS.

We’ve talked a lot about Wisconsin in recent days here in the NOTEBOOK. They’ve largely passed their tests outside of a road lemon at Maryland. You can’t really call Sunday’s game a meaningful test because nothing is at stake for them! Wisconsin will be a #1 seed in Chicago next week at the Big 10 tournament, having already claimed the regular season crown. They’re in discussions for a #1 or #2 seed in the Big Dance…and would really have to fall apart Sunday and next week to fall to a #3 Dance seed.

For Ohio State though…a lot is at stake. Lose at home to lame duck Wisconsin, and it’s very hard to take the team seriously as anything other than a one-game spoiler down the road. Win…and now we’re talking! Seeding is also an issue for both the Big 10 tourney and the Dance. The weekend began with FOUR teams tied for third place in the league (Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa, and Purdue were all 11-6). Joe Lunardi’s “Bracketology” currently has the Buckeyes slotted for a #7 Dance seed. They would like to scoot up to at least #6 to have more manageable first and second round opponents.

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about our final regular season big game preview here in the NOTEBOOK…


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Wisconsin: 122.7 per 100 possessions (#1 in the nation)

Ohio State: 113.3 per 100 possessions (#17 in the nation)

This game is extremely similar to Saturday night’s Duke/North Carolina game. Wisconsin and Duke have been flip-flopping the “most efficient offense” award all season because both maximize their strengths on a per-possession basis. Ohio State ranks almost the same as North Carolina…up at “very good” but not quite great. Edge to Wisconsin when both teams are at peak intensity. Handicappers will have to determine whether or not the Badgers will bring both barrels blazing in a game that has no meaning for them in the standings.  


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Wisconsin: 94.8 per 100 possessions (#47 in the nation)

Ohio State: 93.9 per 100 possessions (#34 in the nation)

Again, similar stories here to last night. Wisconsin’s weakness is on defense, though they’re not as bad as Duke. They can be exposed by offenses that attack the basket (which Duke did to the Badgers in Madison!). Ohio State drops off to a range of concern by Dance standards. Being top 35 is great when you’re talking about 300+ teams in the land. But, barely cracking the top 35 becomes a problem when the very best are playing each other. Edge to the Buckeyes here.


Pace Ranking

Wisconsin: #345

Ohio State: #101

Big differences here from our ACC preview. Wisconsin is one of the slowest teams in the nation…which helps them maximize efficiency but makes them upset fodder when their three-pointers aren’t falling. Ohio State is faster than Wisconsin…but not up to the speed of Duke or NC. You can expect Ohio State to try to force the issue here, as the home team often does when styles conflict.  

Against the Spread

Wisconsin: 15-14-1

Ohio State: 14-14-1

Neither team has earned a profit because of the toll that 10% juice takes on losing Las Vegas bets. The market has been in sync with both for the most part. Tough to cover spreads consistently when you’re a high profile program in the rankings and on the TV networks.

Sunday’s card is relatively light, so there’s a good chance this game will show up in the mix…particularly if our Big 10 sources chime in with some great on site information. We’re also looking at the Missouri Valley Championship game, and semifinal action from our information strongholds connected to the Colonial and Metro-Atlantic conferences. Oh, don’t forget about the NBA! LA Clippers/Golden State and Chicago/San Antonio highlight a nice seven-game slate.

You can purchase the final word for Sunday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 before the early games tip off.

Our major tournament previews begin tomorrow! We’ll give you one-day advance coverage for the ACC and Pac 12 tournaments, and then same-day coverage for the Big 12 and Big 10 events midweek. Here’s the NOTEBOOK schedule…

Monday: ACC Tournament Preview…begins Tuesday in Greensboro

Tuesday: Pac 12 Tournament Preview…begins Wednesday in Las Vegas

Wednesday: Big 12 Tournament Preview…begins Wednesday night in Kansas City

Thursday: Big 10 Tournament Preview…begins Thursday in Chicago

Friday-thru-Sunday: Select big game previews on the fly

We’ll pick our spots over the weekend to look at the most exciting matchups in the leagues that aren’t rocked by upsets. Nothing better than great college teams at playoff intensity!

Thanks to everyone who read the NOTEBOOK through the regular season. We will now transition to postseason coverage through all of MARCH MADNESS. You’ll be suffering from madness if you don’t sign up for all the BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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