Ready or not, here comes the meat of the schedule.
Oh wait, you thought that already started? It gets much, much worse.
On Saturday Indiana begins a 16 game gauntlet to close out the regular season that features 15 teams ranked in the KenPom top 38 as of this writing.
Where things will stand in two months when the Hoosiers emerge from Big Ten play is anyone’s guess at this point.
First up is a team that has won four in a row against Indiana, but is struggling lately after a fast start.
Ohio State started the season 9-0 before losing 4 of their last 6, and the Buckeyes will be motivated to right the ship in Bloomington.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
No. 11 Ohio State (11-4, 1-3) at Indiana (12-3, 2-2)
- Tip time: Saturday / 12 p.m. ET
- Location: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.
- Television: Fox (Stream)
- Series: Indiana leads 107-85 (Last meeting: Ohio State won 79-75 in 2019 at the Big Ten Tournament)
- Point Spread: Vegas likes Ohio State by around 1.5 points. KenPom likes Ohio State by 3.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Ohio State Statistical Leaders
- Kaleb Wesson (F) 14.7 ppg
- Duane Washington (G) 11.4 ppg
- D.J. Carton (G) 10.0 ppg
- Kaleb Wesson (F) 9.3 rpg
- Kyle Young (F) 6.8 rpg
- C.J. Walker (G) 3.2 apg
- D.J. Carton (G) 2.7 apg
A look at KenPom No. 4 Ohio State’s noteworthy metrics
- Top 15 Offense and Defense – The Buckeyes are a challenge on both ends with the No. 8 defense and the No. 14 offense in adjusted efficiency. The numbers are somewhat misleading however, as Ohio State has failed to break the 60-point mark in their last three games which were all losses (West Virginia, Wisconsin and Maryland).
- Forcing Long Possessions – OSU is top 100 in making opposing offenses earn their points with an average possession length of 17.7 seconds. With Indiana’s offense struggling, points will be at a premium in this one, and the Hoosiers will have to find answers in the half court. OSU is No. 5 defensively in effective field goal percentage (42.1 percent), and No. 3 against two-point shots (39.8 percent). The last meeting in Bloomington was a 55-52 slug fest, and a similar battle could be on tap.
- Unforced Errors – Ohio State has struggled to take care of the basketball, turning it over on 20.4 percent of possessions (No. 229). They are one of the worst teams in the country (No. 341) when it comes to turnovers that come from something other than steals. If you make the Buckeyes work for their points, they will often make mistakes.
- Miller, Brunk, Phinisee Preview Ohio State
- Holtmann Previews Indiana
- Reduced Minutes on Saturday Will Tell a Larger Story
KALEB WESSON A TOUGH COVER FOR INDIANA
At 6-foot-9 and 270 pounds, junior forward Kaleb Wesson is an imposing physical presence that has the full respect and attention of Indiana head coach Archie Miller.
“They have the premier low post physical presence in the country,” Miller said. “I don’t think there’s another big guy in college basketball that commands as much attention as Kaleb Wesson, and obviously those guys do an unbelievable job of spacing around him with great players, good shooters, and they get him the ball in a variety of ways. And he just puts so much pressure on you inside.”
Wesson has played 27 minutes a game thus far, and he can be prone to foul trouble. The Westerville, Ohio product has fouled out of one game and ended up with four fouls seven other times.
With the Buckeyes lacking another regular in the rotation that plays in the paint, Indiana might look to attack Wesson and see if they can keep him on the bench with fouls.
Unlike last year, Indiana has multiple big men that it can throw at Wesson and engage in a physical battle.
IU redshirt junior forward Joey Brunk is the most likely to draw the duty first, and he seemed to indicate that it will be a group effort to slow down the Buckeye big man.
“He’s a really skilled player and has a lot of talent, and we have a lot of guys that are ready for the challenge and want to play hard and play hard in spurts, and someone’s going to be ready to step up for the challenge come tomorrow,” Brunk said.
Everyone for Indiana will have to be aware of Wesson’s ability as a perimeter shooter. He is attempting 3.3 three point shots per game and converting on 42 percent on the season. Wesson is also a good passer out of the post. He averages 2.1 assists per contest.
YOUNG’S STATUS UNCERTAIN FOR SATURDAY
A key player on Ohio State’s roster that you may not know a lot about is forward Kyle Young. The Canton, Ohio product had an appendectomy and has missed the last two games.
His status for Saturday is up in the air.
“It’s going to really be up until game time,” Buckeye head coach Chris Holtmann said on Friday.
Holtmann indicated that Young was close to playing in Ohio State’s last game, and Miller is assuming that the 6-foot-8 banger will be on the court.
“We’ll prepare for him to play. I mean you just prepare for him being in there,” Miller said.
Young’s numbers won’t wow you, but he is productive and efficient. He averages 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest while shooting 66.7 percent from the field.
But more than statistics, Young is an energy guy that makes everything click for OSU. It is no coincidence that Ohio State has struggled with him out of the lineup.
“He’s a warrior; he’s a winner,” Miller said. “He’s obviously a very, very key cog in their team. His physicality, his toughness on the boards helps them win. He makes them go.
“Defensively, he can really, really play, and he does a lot of big-time things for those guys, so not having him is obviously a downer for them, but once he gets back, hopefully he’s healthy for their team’s sake. But we’ll prepare for him to play. If he doesn’t play, it changes some things just in the lineups for the game, but we’ll prepare for him to play.”
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