Ohio State vs. Gonzaga
When: Today at roughly midnight
Where: Veterans Memorial Coliseum; Portland, Oregon
Radio: OSU-IMG Sports Network (63 stations), Sirius 93/XM 93, WBNS-FM (97.1)
Records: Ohio State 4-0; Gonzaga 3-0
G C.J. Jackson, 6-1, Jr., 11.0
G Musa Jallow, 6-5, Fr., 6.8
F Jae’Sean Tate, 6-4, Sr., 15.3
F Keita Bates-Diop, 6-7, Jr., 19.3
C Micah Potter, 6-9, So., 8.8
Key reserves: G Kam Williams, 6-2, Sr., 8.3; G Andrew Dakich, 6-2, Gr., 2.5; C Kaleb Wesson, 6-9, Fr., 11.3; F Andre Wesson, 6-6, So., 2.8; F Kyle Young, 6-8, Fr., 1.5
G Silas Melson, 6-4, Sr., 11.7
G Josh Perkins, 6-3, Jr., 13.3
G Corey Kispert, 6-6, Fr., 11.7
F Johnathan Williams, 6-9, Sr., 11.0
F Killian Tillie, 6-10, So., 12.3
Key reserves: F Rui Hachimura, 6-8, So., 9.7; G Zach Norvell Jr., 6-5, R-Fr., 10.7; C Jacob Larsen, 6-11, R-Fr., 6.7; F Jeremy Jones, 6-7, Jr., 3.3
And now, after four games, an opponent Ohio State fans have assuredly heard of and can get excited about. The Buckeyes have taken care of business against Robert Morris, Radford, Texas Southern and Northeastern, and now it’s time to face the first nationally ranked opponent of the Chris Holtmann era.
Conversation about the Zags began shortly after Ohio State finished off Northeastern, when Huskies coach Bill Coen was asked how the Buckeyes were able to outrebound his team despite a size advantage. His response was that sometimes rebounding “is more about girth than size,” and that the Buckeyes were better at using theirs than his team was.
Along with everything else, that’s going to be put to the test at a much higher level against a Gonzaga team that starts four players who were on last year’s team that advanced to the national championship game before losing to North Carolina. The Zags are the 17th-tallest team in the country and have seven players averaging at least 9.7 points per game.
“They’re really disciplined,” Holtmann said of Gonzaga. “You can tell they’re a program that’s won at a high level for a number of years because they don’t beat themselves. They’re big they’re talented they’re well-coached. They’re one of the very best basketball programs in the country. They’re really gifted. I think they can make another deep run in the tournament, I really do.
“They’re fast in transition. They’re really effective in the half court. They have the ability to defend really well. Last year they were one of the best defensive teams in the country. Certainly rebounding is going to be critical with a group this big and this talented.”
Tate, who is second on the team with an average of 7.5 rebounds per game, said positioning will be key to controlling the glass. Ohio State has a plus-14.8 rebounding margin so far this season.
“They’re a big team,” Tate said. “(It’s) just doing our job early. They’re taller than us. They’re just a bigger team than us. That just means we’re going to have to work harder, especially on rebounding, doing our work early. It always comes back to communication and being on point, knowing where everyone is going to be out there on the court.”
Tate needs 11 rebounds to reach 600 for his career and will be playing in his 100th game for the Buckeyes. He is seconds among Power Five conferences in rebounding among players 6-4 or shorter.
*Sophomore center Micah Potter was pronounced as likely to play when Holtmann met with reporters Tuesday, but it’s unclear if he will be 100 percent. That could mean a big opportunity for freshman Kaleb Wesson, who has come off the bench in three games and was suspended for a fourth for a failure to meet team expectations.
“I think at this point Micah talks a little bit more,” Bates-Diop said when asked to compare the two. “He’s very communicative and has a louder voice. Kaleb’s in his third or fourth game. He doesn’t fully understand the concept of you have to communicate all the time. Micah’s probably better at that at this point.”
*After being in the mid-200s, Ohio State has improved to No. 123 nationally in offensive turnover percentage according to KenPom.com.
*Dan Dakich, the son of graduate transfer guard Andrew Dakich, will be on the mic and provide expert analysis for the broadcast. It’s the first time Dakich has called an Ohio State game this season.
*Tate was 10 for 10 against Northeastern, making him the first player this season to be perfect from the field while taking double-digit shot attempts.
*This is the first time since the 2015-16 season that Ohio State has opened the season with double-digit wins in each of its first four games. Ohio State has outscored its first four opponents by an average of 21.0 points per game.
The Buckeyes have also topped 80 points in four straight games for the first time since a six-game stretch during the 2011 non-conference schedule.
*Bates-Diop has Ohio State’s best individual plus-minus so far this season. He’s at plus-93, ahead of Jackson (+85), Tate (+83) and Potter (+63).
What does KenPom say?
According to the advanced statistics of KenPom.com, Ohio State has a 27 percent chance to win today’s game. After climbing seven spots to No. 67 in the national rankings with Sunday’s win against Northeastern, Ohio State is projected to lose to Gonzaga by a score of 79-72. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 24 in the country.
From today's Dispatch, surely you've heard players say they're taking it one game at a time. For Tate and the Buckeyes, this is a somewhat different approach than the past two seasons, and here's why.
Ohio State could eventually face Butler in this tournament. Holtmann wants no part of that.
Here's more on Potter's situation.
The third episode of the BuckeyeXtra men's basketball podcast is up for your listening pleasure. You can subscribe on iTunes or Google Play, and you can also stream it here: