A new season begins for the Ohio State men’s basketball team.
That seemed to be the narrative of the team after its loss to Penn State in the Buckeyes’ first game of the Big Ten tournament. It will take time to shake off the loss, but their season is not over.
That new season begins at 4:30 p.m. Thursday when the fifth-seeded Buckeyes travel to Boise, Idaho, to face 12th-seeded South Dakota State in Ohio State’s first game in the NCAA Tournament since the 2014-15 season.
Should Ohio State advance past the Jackrabbits, it will likely take on fourth-seeded Gonzaga, a team that stomped the Buckeyes 86-59 in the first meeting between the two. After that, it could be top-seeded Xavier.
South Dakota State
G — Brandon Key — Junior, 5-foot-10, 180 lbs., 6.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 3.3 apg
G — David Jenkins — Freshman, 6-foot-2, 190 lbs., 16.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.6 apg
F — Skyler Flatten — Senior, 6-foot-6, 215 lbs., 7.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.2 apg
F — Reed Tellinghuisen — Senior, 6-foot-7, 215 lbs., 12.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.6 apg
C — Mike Daum — Junior, 6-foot-9, 250 lbs., 23.8 ppgs, 10.4 rpg, 1.3 apg
G — C.J. Jackson — Junior, 6-foot-1, 175 lbs., 12.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.9 apg
G — Kam Williams — Redshirt senior, 6-foot-2, 185 lbs., 8.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.7 apg
F — Jae’Sean Tate — Senior, 6-foot-4, 230 lbs., 12.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.9 apg
F — Keita Bates-Diop — Redshirt junior, 6-foot-7, 235 lbs., 19.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.7 apg
C — Kaleb Wesson — Freshman, 6-foot-9, 270 lbs., 10.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.1 apg
Scouting South Dakota State
Teams that have given Ohio State issues this season have been teams with large or athletic guards that have been able to challenge the Buckeyes to lean more on their smaller guards — C.J. Jackson, Kam Williams and Andrew Dakich — to step up defensively.
That has not been the key to South Dakota State’s success in 2018. One of its starting two guards is under 6-foot, and the other is only 6-foot-2, meaning the Buckeyes should not run into a size mismatch like it has in the past against teams like Penn State.
Instead of relying on their guards, the Jackrabbits have received solid production from freshman guard David Jenkins, but they have leaned on junior center Mike Daum when they need production. Nicknamed “The Daum-inator,” the 6-foot-9 center has demonstrated an ability to score from all areas on the court, making 47.4 percent of shots from 2 and 42.9 percent from 3.
Ohio State has had mixed levels of success against star centers this season. It held Michigan’s 6-foot-11 Moritz Wagner to a combined 26 points in the two games played and North Carolina center Luke Maye to nine points in the one game between the two teams. However, the Buckeyes allowed Purdue’s 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas to drop 18, Butler forward Kelan Martin to score 24 and Gonzaga center Johnathan Williams to put up 21 points.
However, most of the struggles came earlier in the season. Ohio State freshman center Kaleb Wesson has improved his defense since those games — he was matched up with Williams in his first career start. Though his defense is still far from perfect and needs improving, he should be able to prevent Daum from posting his 13th 30-point game on the Buckeyes.
Overall, the Jackrabbits are not a team that would appear to give Ohio State much matchup problems. South Dakota State has struggled to force turnovers this season, which is good for an Ohio State team that has run into turnover issues throughout the campaign.
The Jackrabbits have also struggled to defend against opponents who derive most of their offensive production in the post. Opposing teams have generated 52.4 percent of their points from inside the arc and are shooting 49.8 percent inside. Ohio State, on the other hand, has scored 55.4 percent of its points inside this season, 30th-highest in the nation, while shooting 55.1 percent inside, 29th-best.
South Dakota State won’t make any mistakes — it has the lowest turnover rate this season. It also has lived and died by the 3 this season, posting a 26th-best 39.2 percent shooting rate from 3 while generating 37.5 percent of its offense from beyond the arc, 37th-highest in the country.
Opponents have find about average success against Ohio State from 3, shooting 34.6 percent (149th-best), but have consistently found that to be the way to attack the Buckeyes. Ohio State has seen opposing teams score 35.1 percent of their total points from 3, the 55th-highest rate in the country.
The Bottom Line
This game in a way has that feeling of a typical five-seed vs. 12-seed matchup in the tournament. Many are not giving South Dakota State a chance. They don’t have the typical characteristics of a team that has given Ohio State trouble this season and do not have a single Tier-A win — a top-50 win adjusting for location — on their schedule, according to advanced statistics website KenPom.com.
The ability of the Jackrabbits to shoot 3s with success should make the game interesting, but outside of Daum, they do not have the interior defense to be able to stop players like redshirt junior Keita Bates-Diop and Wesson from having big games.
Ohio State wins 77-68