Last year, Ohio State was led by one of the best players in the country, freshman D'Angelo Russell. Even with him, the Buckeyes were just a 10 seed in the tournament. You may know that Russell is now on the LA Lakers, and the Buckeyes are quite the worse for wear without him.
OSU has lost 3 in a row heading into tonight's contest. They lost to UT-Arlington, Louisiana Tech and Memphis. The first two were at home, Memphis was in Miami.
The Buckeyes are, once again, led by a freshman PG. This year that is JaQuan Lyle , a big PG who is also capable of playing on the wing. He's not a great shooter, but he isn't a pass-first guy either. He can knock down the 3, and he can also hit the pull-up. He wants to get to the rim, using his size and strength to get by defenders.
Daniel Giddens is another freshman in the starting 5. He's a big man, who is mostly a defensive presence. He's a good shot blocker and he'll work the offensive glass. He isn't going to get many touches in the set offense. Despite starting, he's averaging just 6 points per game. He is averaging over 3 blocks per game though.
The rest of the team is essentially made up of Russell's overlooked classmates. Marc Loving is the team's leading scorer and he's the type of stretch-4 that has given the Hoos trouble in years past. He's a 40% 3 point shooter who can also score a bit with his back to the basket. But he's not really an interior player, and at 6'7" 220 will struggle to bang inside against Anthony Gill. He's also not good on the glass.
The other two main scorers for the Buckeyes are Jae'Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop. Diop is a shooter (46% from last year), but he's struggling so far this year. Are those struggles just a fluke, or is he getting less space with Russell not around as the focus of the defense. Tate is a slasher who will also see some time at the point. Tate can't shoot (36% from the FT line this year), but he's uber-athletic and works very well on the glass for a guard.
The Buckeyes don't really have anybody else up front, with backup big men Trevor Thompson and David Bell seeing only a handful of minutes here and there. Neither are much of a threat offensively, though Thompson is a pretty good shot blocker. With 3 young, inexperienced big men, the Hoos should have some success inside. It would behoove the Hoos to get some of those guys into foul trouble, because Loving isn't capable of handling Gill or Tobey inside.
On the perimeter, OSU matches up pretty well against the Hoos. With 3 bigger guards/wings, the Hoos will have to decide who to leave London Perrantes on. Does he attempt to stay with the 6'5" 210 pound Lyle, who tends to dominate the ball? Or does Brogdon stay on him, while Perrantes guards Bates-Diop. Perrantes is sometimes asked to guard the shooter, but he'll be giving up a great deal of size to Bates-Diop. We'll likely see a great deal of Marial Shayok on Jae'Sean Tate.
This OSU team isn't nearly as good as they've been in past years. They've struggled with turnovers; not a surprise for such a young team. They are also a dreadful team from the FT line. The Hoos have found their stroke from the perimeter over the past 4 games, but they want to make sure that 3 point attempts come after the ball goes inside. The Buckeyes are a man-to-man team, so the Hoos should be able to get their interior guys in good matchups. If OSU is forced to double, that's when the Hoos will get open looks from the outside. If they can make their 3s, they'll be OK in this one.
OSU is better than any of the 4 teams the Hoos have beaten in their winning streak, but they probably aren't as good as the GW team that beat our Wahoos.