Erratic is one word to sum up a topsy-turvy season for Ohio State men’s basketball, but a peek behind the curtain suggests a pattern to the madness.
Simply put, if the Buckeyes play at home, they’re one of the nation’s best teams. If they’re playing in an opposing team’s backyard, they fall to a tier below mediocre.
Taking two neutral-site games out of the equation –– a win against then-No. 6 Kentucky and a loss to then-No. 22 West Virginia –– Ohio State is 14-2 when it plays in Columbus, and its two losses to Wisconsin and Minnesota were suffered by a combined seven points.
On the road, though, the Buckeyes are 3-6, four of those losses coming by way of double-digit blowout.
As head coach Chris Holtmann said in November, the Buckeyes are no offensive juggernaut. Ohio State is sandwiched between Radford and VMI for the No. 148 scoring offense in the country, putting up just 71.9 points per game, and it’s nearly six points worse in road games.
However, the Buckeye offense has excelled in shooting the 3. The Buckeyes’ nearly 38-percent success rate from beyond the arc is No. 15 in the country, 79 spots higher than the next best Big Ten team.
But that average doesn’t tell the whole story.
The Buckeyes shoot 40.8 percent from the 3-point line at home, a figure that would put them at No. 2 in the nation had they been able to sustain it across their 27 games.
But Ohio State shoots almost seven percent worse from deep when it plays on the road; a percentage that would sit at No. 146 in college basketball if it were the Buckeyes’ season average.
In Columbus, Ohio, junior forward Kaleb Wesson and sophomore guard Luther Muhammad have shot exceptionally well from the 3-point line, with 50- and 45-percent marksmanship, respectively.
Those numbers crumble on the road, where Wesson shoots just 32.4 percent from 3, and Muhammad shoots 23 percent.
They are not the only Buckeyes who do worse away from the Schottenstein Center, however, as redshirt junior guard CJ Walker sees a 15.5-percent dip in his 3-point shooting numbers, while sophomore guard Duane Washington drops nearly seven percent.
Of the Buckeyes’ six most active scoring contributors, Washington is the lone player whose scoring average is better on the road than at home.
Junior forward Kyle Young’s scoring decline is the sharpest among the first six Buckeyes. He has scored double digits in seven of his 15 home appearances, averaging 8.9 points per contest on nearly 68-percent shooting. In eight road games, Young has scored double digits just once, shooting 47 percent from the field for 5.25 points per game.
Wesson’s 14 points per game lead the team, but he’s attempted 10 or more shots in only five of the Buckeyes’ 16 home games. His shot attempts have been in double digits in all but one game on the road.
The same trend is present in the shot attempts of Washington, Ohio State’s second-leading scorer.
Wesson and Washington take more shots per game on the road, but shoot significantly worse from the field, which indicates that when teammates don’t pick up the scoring slack, the pair begin to overcompensate by forcing up more attempts.
On the other side of the ball, Ohio State has the No. 24 scoring defense in the country, but it allows more than 10 more points per game to opponents on the road than it does at home.
The Buckeyes’ 3-point defense is among the worst in the country, giving up 33.7 percent to opposing teams from behind the line, and it’s even worse on the road.
Opponents have hit 10 or more 3s in a third of the Buckeyes’ away games, an event that’s occurred in just 19 percent of their home matchups.
Ohio State’s home-away discrepancy is not unique. Penn State and Michigan State are the only Big Ten teams with winning road records, and both stand only a game above .500 in that category.
But for those looking to diagnose a mixed-bag team that’s been plagued by inconsistency, look no further than the home-away splits to gauge which Buckeye squad might take the floor on a given night.