Ohio State (12-4, 3-0 Big Ten) has squared off against three currently ranked opponents this season. It lost all three games — all by double-digits. To end its losing streak against the top teams in the nation, it will have to pull one of the biggest upsets in the season when it hosts No. 1 Michigan State Sunday at the Schottenstein Center.
The game starts at 4:30 p.m. on CBS. Here’s what to expect.
G — Joshua Langford — Sophomore, 6-foot-5, 210 lbs., 13.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.7 apg
G — Cassius Winston — Sophomore, 6-foot, 185 lbs., 12.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 7.3 apg,
G/F — Miles Bridges — Sophomore, 6-foot-7, 225 lbs., 16.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.1 apg
F — Jaren Jackson Jr. — Freshman, 6-foot-11, 242 lbs., 10.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.3 apg
F — Nick Ward — Sophomore, 6-foot-8, 245 lbs., 15.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.1 apg
G — C.J. Jackson — Junior, 6-foot-1, 175 lbs., 13.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.3 apg
G — Kam Williams — Redshirt senior, 6-foot-2, 185 lbs., 8.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.4 apg
F — Jae’Sean Tate — Senior, 6-foot-4, 230 lbs., 12.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.8 apg
F — Keita Bates-Diop — Redshirt junior, 6-foot-7, 235 lbs., 19.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.4 apg
C — Kaleb Wesson — Freshman, 6-foot-9, 270 lbs., 11.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 0.8 apg
Scouting Michigan State
The Spartans are arguably the most complete team on both sides of the ball Ohio State will face all season. They rank in the top 15 for both points scored and points allowed this season and lead the nation with a plus-26.6 scoring margin.
What makes Michigan State such a challenging offense to defend is its ability to score from all ranges. This season it has spread out its point distribution quite a bit with 51.5 percent of its offense coming from inside the arc, 31.3 percent outside and 17.2 percent from the free-throw line, according to Ken Pomeroy.
And regardless of where the Spartans are on the court, it is more than capable of making the shots. It ranks in the top 10 in both 3-point and 2-point shooting this season with 42.4 percent from the 3 and 59.5 percent for two. It has a 61 percent effective field goal percentage, according to Pomeroy.
That versatility of the Spartans is equally effective on defense. Their 39.4 effective field goal percentage allowed ranks No. 1 in the nation, according to Pomeroy. Opposing offenses have found more success from beyond 3-point range, shooting 33.4 percent from beyond the arc and just 32.8 percent inside (lowest in the nation). Michigan State also blocks the most shot, averaging 8.4 blocks per game.
What to expect
Nearly any opponent Michigan State faces looks outmatched, and that remains true for the Buckeyes. Ohio State was never all that close with No. 12 UNC on Dec. 23, losing 86-72, and was blown out by No. 19 Gonzaga, 86-59, on Nov. 23.
Ohio State is not a team that relies on 3-point shooting for offense and has its most success when it drives to the basket. Only 26.7 percent of its points this season have come from the 3 while 54.4 percent have come within the perimeter, according to Pomeroy. That does not bode well against a team like Michigan State that is one of the better interior defenders in the nation.
The Buckeyes do have a statistical edge when it comes to both forcing and limiting turnovers. The Spartans have turned the ball over 19.5 percent of the time and forced turnovers only 17.6 percent of the time, 212th and 250th in the nation by Pomeroy, respectively.
Particularly as of late, the Buckeyes have done a much better job limiting their own turnovers. They currently sit at No. 140 in the nation at 18.5 percent while forcing the 114th-most turnovers in the country at 20.2 percent.
Ohio State has a few promising matchups against Michigan State statistically, but overall this will be a challenge for the Buckeyes. If head coach Chris Holtmann is going to get his first signature win with the Scarlet and Gray, a lot will have to go right for his team.
Michigan State wins 80-65