The Seton Hall Pirates try to remain perfect when they face the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Fort Myers Tip-Off on Monday.
Despite not being ranked and playing the No. 19 Buckeyes, Seton Hall is the narrow favorite with NCAA basketball markets.
A spot in the second round is on the line for the impressive teams, in what should be a close battle in Florida.
Ohio State Suffers Hiccup
The Ohio State Buckeyes won their first three games before losing to Xavier 71-65, which was an unexpected hiccup.
They scored only 65 points after putting up 89 and 84 points, respectively, in their previous games. They struggled with the increase in opposition, and beating Seton Hall won’t be an easy test for the +1½-point underdogs.
Despite being the ranked team, Ohio State enters the first game of this tournament as underdogs. The sportsbook isn’t sure what to make of their recent loss, but we think it’s a bad sign.
Bettors can’t get a good guide when ranked teams beat the lower-level sides. However, we got an excellent guide in the loss and they are 1-3 against the spread.
The Buckeyes failed to cover a -17½ spread when beating Niagara 84-74 and they were -2½ favorites when losing to Xavier. The only spread win came when destroying Bowling Green 89-58, but our biggest concern is their offense.
Ohio State ranks outside the top 100 in every offensive statistical category. Defensive numbers are no better, so despite having played only four games, things will need to improve if the Buckeyes want to hold onto their ranking.
Pirates are Impressive
Expectations were mild for the Seton Hall Pirates in preseason markets, but they have performed highly to date.
The Pirates (3-0) opened their season with wins over Fairleigh Dickinson and Yale before beating Michigan 67-65. It was an early statement win, especially as eight-point underdogs with betting online markets.
They are 3-0 against the spread and they haven’t come close to failing bettors. They have covered by 17, 24½ and 10 points, hence why there is market confidence against Ohio State.
Coach Kevin Willard wasn’t surprised by the result against Michigan.
“This is where we are as a program,” Willard told ESPN. “I expected us to win this game. This wasn’t a shock to me. We can play anybody in the country and we’ve done that in the last seven years.
“I’ve watched the game like five times. It was a phenomenal game. It was like this, a really, really good basketball game.”
The confidence gained from a big win could take the Pirates to new levels. The Big East contenders would love to notch another win over a Big Ten team, so Monday’s game has significant importance.
We expect the Pirates to be underdogs, but bookmakers have cottoned onto their ability. Bryce Aiken, Tyrese Samuel and Myles Cale are leading the way, and although they don’t stand out like Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell, they play team ball.
The Pirates score 80 points per game and allow only 52.7. The defense has been outstanding, which currently ranks first in the nation for three-point percentage.
Ohio State vs Seton Hall Pick
We are confident with the Seton Hall Pirates extending their unbeaten record to 4-0.
The win over top-five Michigan was superb and we don’t think it was a fluke. They handled the pressure well and the Big East has been notching statement wins regularly.
Seton Hall is the much better defensive team and that’s where the difference should come. We can’t see Ohio State scoring a big number, so it could be a 70-60 result.
Take the Pirates to cover the small spread.