No one could have predicted that things would be so tumultuous for the Indiana men's basketball team this season, but here we are. Coming off of a shameful loss at home to Penn State on Saturday, the Hoosiers can at least be thankful to know that their next opponents have struggled just as much/if not more than they have in 2023-2024. Ohio State has an identical overall record to Indiana (13-9), but sits in the Big Ten's cellar in terms of conference record (currently in 13th place out of 14 teams with a 3-8 record in conference play). The Buckeyes are riding a 4-game losing streak into tonight's matchup, and it was the Hoosiers who came away victorious in the last clash between these clubs a few weeks back. While OSU will look to relinquish that rough patch, IU will also be looking to squash a skid of their own. Indiana has not won at Ohio State since the 2016-2017 campaign, but they certainly have a shot to end that drought this evening.
With Xavier Johnson returning to action after missing the putrid performance against Penn State, both teams should be entering this one with a clean bill of health. The outcome could really go either way, as both of these squads have been extremely volatile on the court this season. With that in mind, we took our latest shot at deciphering a few of the bet picks that we believe in most via DraftKings.
Indiana +5.5 (-108)
The Buckeyes are the favorites in this one simply due to home court advantage. They will surely be looking to earn a W as they try to turn things around before it is too late, but that does not mean that they are any more desperate for a dub than the Hoosiers. This game could feasibly be the last chance for these teams to salvage their NCAA tournament hopes, and the loser of this one would more than likely be officially eliminated from tourney contention. With those things in mind, this one should be a close one throughout. Choosing a winner in this case is very difficult, but expecting IU to end the game no more than 5 points behind the Buckeyes is realistic in what could be a barn-burner.
Trey Galloway OVER 3.5 Assists
Xavier Johnson and Gabe Cupps may be the official point guards listed on the depth chart, but Trey Galloway has been Indiana's best pure playmaker in 2023-2024 and it has not even been close. The 6'5", 205 pound senior uses his strength, poise, and athleticism to penetrate into gaps and create shot opportunities for his comrades. Galloway has dishes out 4 or more dimes in half of his team's games this year (11/22), and has done so in 8 of the 11 games spanning from December 21st (North Alabama) on.
Felix Okpara OVER 6.5 Rebounds
Okpara, who leads OSU in rebounding at 7 per game, was phenomenal in last month's matchup in B-Town. The sophomore had a career-high 15 boards in that battle while tying a career-high in blocks with 5 swats. He kept Kel'el Ware in check (8 points on 4/10 shooting to go with 6 rebounds), and effectively won that individual matchup. He should once again see ample floor time in this one and have more than a few rebounding opportunities with the interior-centric Indiana team coming to town.
Malik Reneau OVER 15.5 Points
While Ware was unable to get going in the last meeting, Malik Reneau had himself quite a day. He finished that contest with 23 points on 10/16 shooting and snagged 7 rebounds as well. Facing off with the same Buckeye frontcourt that was unable to contain his bullying ways last time out bodes well for the possibility of him reaching at least his scoring average for the season (16.0 PPG).
Jamison Battle OVER 2.5 Made 3's
IU has strongly improved their 3-point defense since the start of the season, but running the NCAA's 6th most accurate outside marksman off the line is much easier said than done. Battle is burying 45% of his 6.4 triple tries per game, and he splashed 5 of them last time the teams met. He has been on a prolonged heater since the start of 2024, connecting on a hair over 49% (27/55) since the start of the New Year. Expect Ohio State to target the defensive drowsiness of freshman Mackenzie Mgbako once again in Columbus.