For the Ohio State Buckeyes, being the visiting team is still an uncomfortable feeling. Ohio State will play only its fourth road contest today as the team takes on the Iowa Hawkeyes hundreds of miles from the friendly confines of the Schottenstein Center.
Of course, having a road game in Big Ten play makes things even more difficult. Iowa and Ohio State have played each other for quite some time, so the fact that the Buckeyes are having a great year so far will only turn this game into an even more hostile environment.
After losing a heartbreaker on the road to Indiana, the Buckeyes returned home and absolutely destroyed the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who were making their first conference appearance in Columbus. That lopsided victory was enough to get Ohio State's attention simply on the road ahead of it and not in the rearview mirror, wondering what could have been done differently against the Hoosiers.
The Hawkeyes bring a high-powered offense to the floor, just as the Buckeyes do. Only Indiana is averaging more points per game than these two squads. Ohio State averages about 78 points per contest, and Iowa State puts up about 77. Defensively, though, the Buckeyes have a considerable edge. Ohio State is third in the conference in team defense, but the Hawkeyes are the cellar dwellers in 12th place.
The main key for Ohio State this game will be keeping the foul count low. It will take Ohio State's best players to wrap up a road win against Iowa, and having foul trouble dictate who can play is not the best way to get that done. Furthermore, the Hawkeyes are second in the Big Ten in free throw percentage. They make 73.6 percent of their attempts from the charity stripe, but Ohio State has struggled a bit more, sinking only 68.4 percent of the team's free throws.
The Buckeyes also need to move the ball effectively to find open shots. The Hawkeyes allow their opponents to make a higher percentage of their shots than any other team in the conference. Also in Ohio State's favor is the fact that the Buckeyes are first in the conference in assists. By moving the ball around the perimeter and then finding one of the team's talented big men inside, this game could be in hand by the end of the first half.
The bottom line is that the Hawkeyes need to play an almost perfect game to pull this one out. They need to step up their defense and grab rebounds. Ohio State is second in the Big Ten in rebound margin, and the team can crank out second-chance points very efficiently. Limiting Ohio State's chances will be a huge plus for the home team.
Tip-off is at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.
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