Heavy Public Betting on Ohio State Against Visiting Youngstown St

Team Page: Youngstown St :: Ohio St

86% of Bets Placed on Ohio St -20.5 | Matchup | Picks
Even without Greg Oden, Ohio State has the look of a national title contender.

The fourth-ranked Buckeyes look for another easy win on Friday when they host Youngstown State before facing their biggest test of the season to date.

Ohio State (5-0) has played five inferior opponents to open the season, and Youngstown State (2-3) is not expected to pose much of a threat.

That shouldn't be the case on Wednesday, when the Buckeyes play their first road game of the season as they visit second-ranked North Carolina.

Oddsmakers have made Ohio State -20.5 point spread favorites (College Basketball Odds) for tonights game, the over/under has been set at 144 total points (View College Basketball Sports Books).

``That's going to be a challenge,'' Ohio State guard Jamar Butler said. ``But if we keep playing within our system I think we'll be fine.''

Oden won't be around for that matchup, with a wrist injury expected to keep him sidelined until early January.

The prized 7-foot-1 freshman, who many believe could have been the top overall pick in this year's NBA draft had he been eligible, has not been missed much by the Buckeyes as of yet.

Ohio State is averaging 86.2 points per game while allowing 61.6. The team's closest margin of victory was 87-75 over Loyola of Chicago on Nov. 11.

The Buckeyes are shooting 53 percent from the field and 41.7 percent (50-for-120) from 3-point range.

Oden's freshmen classmates have stepped up in his absence.

Guard Daequan Cook leads the team with 18.0 points per game, including 20 in an 82-60 win over San Francisco on Monday. Fellow freshman Mike Conley Jr. added 12 points, nine assists and six rebounds.

Conley, averaging 9.8 points and 6.6 assists, and Cook have fit in well with veterans like Butler (10.0 ppg, 5.0 apg) and Ron Lewis (17.2 ppg).

``We're trying to get those guys to understand that we're a little different team than the last two years here,'' Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. ``We've got some depth. We're trying to get guys to understand their roles.''

With Butler and Conley in the backcourt, the Buckeyes have two point guards starting at the same time. The pair combined for 16 assists and two turnovers against San Francisco.

``It's an advantage for us to have two guys out there capable of making plays,'' Matta said.

Ohio State will go for its 24th straight home win over an unranked, non-conference opponent. Texas Tech was the last unranked non-Big Ten team to come to Columbus and beat the Buckeyes, 80-72 on Jan. 4, 2004.

Youngstown State will play its third game of the season against a Big Ten team, and second in a row.

The Penguins couldn't overcome an early 11-1 run and lost 65-56 at Michigan on Wednesday. Senior guard Keston Roberts finished with 18 points to pace Youngstown State, which held the Wolverines to one point in the final six minutes as it tried to get back in the game.

``I think we battled,'' said coach Jerry Slocum, whose team lost 86-61 to Michigan State on Nov. 9. ``We got down 27 and came out of a timeout and started hitting our shots. I was proud of the way we defended.''

The Penguins, who finished 7-21 last season and 4-12 in the Horizon League, are looking for their first winning season since going 19-11 in 2000-01.

Youngstown State has not won in 16 games against Big Ten schools, including two losses to Ohio State.

by: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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