The Ohio State Buckeyes almost had their plans for a return trip to the Final Four derailed over the weekend by an upstart Iowa State team.
But OSU survived, and now will try to get one win closer to a trip to Atlanta when it takes on the quietly dangerousin an NCAA tournament West Regional semifinal game Thursday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles (7:45 pm ET, TBS).
As of Tuesday morning, the March Madness betting odds at most online sportsbooks had the Buckeyes as four-point favorites for Thursday night's game.
But one trend has to give in this 2 vs. 6 battle. The Buckeyes are 8-2 ATS in their past 10 and 7-2 ATS in their past nine games as a favorite. The Wildcats meanwhile are a sizzling 13-3 ATS in their past 16 games as an underdog and 5-0 ATS in their past five tournament games.
Ohio State finished second in the Big Ten regular-season standings, going 13-5, just a game back of first-place Indiana. The Buckeyes then won the Big Ten's conference tournament, beating Michigan State in the semis and Wisconsin in the final.
Second-seeded OSU then began this NCAA tournament with a 95-70 romp over Iona last Friday, then escaped with a 78-75 victory over Iowa State Sunday.
The Buckeyes, as seven-point favorites Sunday, led 69-56 with six minutes to go, only to allow the Cyclones to go on a 13-0 run to tie the game at 69. But three minutes later OSU'spopped a 3-pointer just before the final buzzer for a victory that sent the Buckeyes to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season.
Along with its five straight victories to end the regular season, Ohio State heads into Thursday riding a 10-game winning streak.
On the other side of this matchup Arizona went 12-6 in Pac-12 play this season, finishing in a tie for second place, one game behind first-place UCLA. The Wildcats then let an 11-point lead slip away in losing to the Bruins in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
Sixth-seeded Arizona then opened this NCAA tournament with an 81-64 victory over Belmont last Thursday, then dispatched of Harvard 74-51 Saturday to reach the Sweet 16 for the third time in the last five seasons.
On the season, including their two tournament victories last week, the Wildcats are 7-6 SU but only 5-8 ATS versus teams that made the Big Dance.
The Buckeyes, on the other hand, are 11-7 SU and 12-5 ATS in games against tournament teams this season.
On Bovada.lv's updated NCAA tournament betting boards, Ohio State is getting even-money to win the West Regional and 8/1 to win the national championship, while Arizona is getting 2/1 to win the West and 18/1 to win the tournament.