Northwestern vs. Ohio State: Big Ten Conference Basketball Opener in Columbus

Northwestern Wildcats at No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
Wednesday, 12/28/11, 5:30 PM EST, TV:  N/A
Opening Point Spread:  Ohio State -16.5
Current Betting Line:  Ohio State -16.5
Opening Total:  135.5
Current Total:  134.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Northwestern Wildcats played the Ohio State Buckeyes extremely tough a year ago

Northwestern tips off its 2011-12 Big Ten Conference season when traveling to take on the second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes inside the Value City Arena in Columbus, OH.  The Wildcats have presented the Buckeyes some trouble the last few meetings, something that bettors should be aware of.  “It’s a combination of style of play and really good players,” commented Buckeyes head coach Thad Matta.  It’s still important to note that the program has lost its past 30 games played in Columbus.

The Wildcats had their three-game winning streak snapped last time out, dropping an 87-79 contest to the Creighton Blue Jays as 7.5-point road underdogs.  Northwestern will lean heavily on junior forward Drew Crawford and senior forward John Shurna, as they are averaging 18.1 and 19.4 points per game respectively.  The program dropped its conference opener a year ago, falling 82-69 on the road against 12th-ranked Purdue.    Taking care of the basketball is a major strength for this program, leading the nation with a 1.85 assist-to-turnover ratio this year.

Ohio State has won four straight games since dropping its only game of the season to Kansas, which includes a 69-40 victory over the Miami (OH) RedHawks as 24-point home favorites.  The Buckeyes have only one senior on the roster and many of the players know that a long season is still ahead.  “Every game’s going to be a grind,” commented Buckeyes point guard Aaron Craft.  “Everyone starts anew in conference play.”  The program is 51-44 in conference openers, including a 36-16 mark at home during Big Ten play.

The Buckeyes have registered a 109-45 record against the Wildcats, including a 63-14 mark in Columbus.  Since Matta took over the program during the 2004-05 season, Ohio State is 130-10 in front of its home fans.  He has also directed the team to the most regular-season conference wins with 85 and the most overall wins with 202 over that same span.  All eyes will be on sophomore center Jared Sullinger, who has already missed two games with back spasms, while missing another with an injured ankle.  He experienced some swelling in his foot after the team’s victory over Miami.

Bettors will likely back the Wildcats due to their 6-1 ATS mark on the road, while the Buckeyes are 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings.

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