After missing the last two NCAA Tournaments, the Ohio State Buckeyes are back. Their opponents are the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, a high scoring team out of the Summit League with NCAA Tournament experience.
- When: Thursday, March 15, 4 p.m. EST
- Where: Taco Bell Arena, Boise, Idaho
- Watch: TNT, with Chris Webber, Brian Anderson, and Lisa Byington
- Line: Ohio State -8
Scouting the Buckeyes
The conversation about Ohio State begins with Keita Bates-Diop. The 6’7 forward from Normal, Illinois, is averaging 19.4 points per game, and 8.8 rebounds. However, the improvements they have made over the last couple of seasons goes far beyond Bates-Diop. They are a tough, defensive minded team that does a good job rebounding the basketball. The pieces of the team fit well together, too. There are dribble drivers, big men that can pass, and gutty veterans. There are even young players that have stepped up when needed.
Scouting the Jackrabbits
A similar team to Ohio State in some ways, including being led by a fantastic player. The 6’9 Mike Daum is averaging 23.8 points per game, and hits 40% of his threes. They are a tough rebounding team but more offensive minded than the Buckeyes. They have a couple of streaky guards that can make plays of the dribble and open up outside shots for their teammates.
Players to Watch
- David Jenkins Jr., South Dakota State: The 6’2 guard is a dynamo that can light it up in a hurry. If you loved the late 80s and early 90s NBA, think Vinnie Johnson. When he struggles, the Jackrabbits struggle, however.
- Reed Tellinghuisen, South Dakota State: The 6’7 senior has been in a bit of a slump, but might have broken out of it in the Summit League Championship game against South Dakota.
- Jae’Sean Tate, Ohio State: The 6’4 senior from Pickerington play much bigger than his height and the Buckeyes will need him down low.
- Kam Williams, Ohio State: After getting into some trouble with the coach, Williams has scored in double figures the last three games.
Key to the Contest
Ohio State will need to get second chances to help on them on offense, especially if the Jackrabbits start hitting from outside. As a team, the Jackrabbits hit over 40% from beyond the arch.
The Jackrabbits can’t take the easy way out on offense. The South Dakota State guards will need to continue to try to penetrate when the staunch OSU defense starts shutting down driving lanes.
A lot of pundits are predicting this to be an upset, and it very well could be. However, I believe Ohio State will fluster Daum just enough, and keep the guards from getting a lot of easy baskets. Then the leadership of Tate and Bates-Diop will give them a push at the end for the Buckeyes to pull out the close win, 73-70.