Indiana is back on the road tonight in Columbus as the Hoosiers take on Ohio State at Value City Arena. The Buckeyes, ranked No. 17 in the latest Associated Press top 25 poll, are 18-5 overall and 9-1 in the Big Ten.
The game will be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN with Dave Flemming and Dan Dakich on the call:
Indiana’s brutal seven games in 17 days stretch doesn’t get any easier tonight. Just a little more than 48 hours after Sunday’s loss to Purdue ended at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers will tip off against Ohio State, another ranked opponent.
The Buckeyes are the surprise team in the Big Ten and also one of the biggest surprises nationally. After moving on from Thad Matta in early June, Ohio State pried Chris Holtmann away from Butler. Holtmann scrambled to fill out his roster after taking the job, but has the Buckeyes rolling despite having several open scholarships.
Tonight’s game is the third of four straight at home for Ohio State, which is coming off an 82-79 loss to Penn State. The first of the four contests was a narrow 64-59 win over Nebraska on Jan. 22.
MEET THE BUCKEYES
The major difference this year for Ohio State is redshirt junior Keita Bates-Diop, who played in just nine games last season because of a stress fracture in his left leg.
Bates-Diop would probably be the Big Ten player of the year if the season ended today. He’s averaging a team-high 19.9 points and 8.6 rebounds in 32 minutes per game. In conference games, Bates-Diop is shooting 40.8 percent on 3s and 56.7 percent on 2s. He’s also fifth in the league in defensive rebounding percentage, eighth in block percentage and has the third lowest turnover rate.
Joining Bates-Diop up front are senior Jae’Sean Tate and freshman Kaleb Wesson, who are both averaging in double figures.
Tate is one of the most versatile players in the Big Ten because of his ability to handle the ball and also finish in the paint. Tate is just 6-foot-4, but is shooting 68.4 percent at the rim, according to Hoop-Math.com. His defense is also much improved as his steal percentage is 11th in the conference and his block percentage is 14th. Tate’s 12.8 points per game are third on the team.
Wesson, who is 6-foot-9 and 270 pounds, is shooting 59.7 percent on 2s in league play and is the Big Ten’s third best offensive rebounder (13.2 OR%). He’s also a very good free throw shooter at 74.8 percent. He can be foul prone at times (5.6 fouls per 40 minutes), but he’s one of the league’s best young frontcourt players.
Sophomores Micah Potter and Andre Wesson and freshman Kyle Young provide the backup minutes in the frontcourt. The 6-foot-9 Potter is the most productive of the trio and averages 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.4 minutes per game.
The Ohio State backcourt is anchored by junior point guard C.J. Jackson and senior Kam Williams. The 6-foot-1 Jackson is one of the league’s most improved guards. His 3-point shooting percentage is up eight percent and his free throw percentage is up 16 percent over his sophomore season. He’s the team’s leading distributor (4.4 apg) and is also a strong rebounder (4.1 rpg) for his size.
Williams is an elite 3-point shooter (46.9 percent) and is fifth on the team in scoring at eight per game.
Freshman Musa Jallow and Michigan grad transfer Andrew Dakich are the backups in the backcourt. Dakich is 13-of-21 on 3s while Jallow has struggled from the perimeter (8-of-35).
The formula for Ohio State is quite simple: take care of the ball, get good shots and keep teams off the offensive glass and free throw line.
The Buckeyes have the Big Ten’s best defense in league play, which is impressive considering Purdue and Michigan State are two of the top 10 defenses in the country according to Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric. Ohio State doesn’t force many turnovers, but they don’t commit them either.
Four of the five teams who have beaten Ohio State this year have made 10 or more 3s against them, which doesn’t bode particularly well for Indiana’s chances tonight in Columbus.
WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO
Pomeroy projects a 13-point Ohio State win with just a 13 percent chance of an upset for Indiana. The Sagarin ratings like the Buckeyes by just over nine and the Vegas line is Ohio State by 11 as of Tuesday morning.
Ohio State is coming off its first loss in league play and has had four days to prepare, which is similar to what Michigan State had earlier this month when the Hoosiers went to East Lansing. Indiana is also just 1-6 in true road games this season.
For Indiana to win in Columbus, the Hoosiers are going to have to find a way to generate second chance points and also make 3s, which is a tall task against an Ohio State team destined for a top three finish in the league.
Filed to: Ohio State Buckeyes