Ohio State vs. Butler

When: Today at 3:30 p.m. Eastern

Where: Veterans Memorial Coliseum; Portland, Oregon

TV: ESPN2

Radio: OSU-IMG Sports Network (63 stations), WBNS-FM (97.1)

Records: Ohio State 5-1; Butler 4-2

Projected starters

OHIO STATE

G C.J. Jackson, 6-1, Jr., 13.2

G Musa Jallow, 6-5, Fr., 6.2

F Jae’Sean Tate, 6-4, Sr., 14.5

F Keita Bates-Diop, 6-7, Jr., 17.0

C Kaleb Wesson, 6-9, Fr., 10.8

Key reserves: G Kam Williams, 6-2, Sr., 6.5; G Andrew Dakich, 6-2, Gr., 3.0; C Micah Potter, 6-9, So., 7.4; F Andre Wesson, 6-6, So., 2.7; F Kyle Young, 6-8, Fr., 1.4

BUTLER

F Tyler Wideman, 6-8, Sr., 11.2

F Kelan Martin, 6-7, Sr., 14.7

G Kamar Baldwin, 6-1, So., 12.7

G/F Sean McDermott, 6-6, So., 9.3

G Aaron Thompson, 6-2, Fr., 5.8

Key reserves: G Paul Jorgensen, 6-2, Jr., 8.8; C Nate Fowler, 6-10, Jr., 5.5; G/F Henry Baddley, 6-4, So., 2.8

His hope was for this to be focused on the players, but Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann takes center stage today in a showdown against his former team. It’s the most talked-about storyline, and it’s what I wrote about for today’s paper.

Once Butler lost its opening-round game to Texas, though, this was a likely scenario. Ohio State was hard-pressed to beat Gonzaga, Butler was favored against Portland State and the Buckeyes were essentially a toss-up against Stanford.

And now here we are. After the win against the Cardinal, I asked Holtmann about how rough preparing for that game had to have been: win and face the Bulldogs, or lose. Your choice.

“I don’t know that I thought much about it,” he said. “I thought about it when they won. Then you kind of put it out of your mind honestly and you focus on this game and what we need to do and how we can best prepare and coach these guys as we lead up to the game and then honestly you don’t think about it at all until (Jeff) Goodman asked me about it in the postgame. You don’t think about it. It’s unique because three months ago or whatever, I was sitting in that office there.”

I wondered if, given a day off in between games, Holtmann might drive himself crazy over-preparing for the game.

“Yeah, probably,” he said. “I think we’ll just try, we talk to the players about do your job, do your job, the responsibility of doing your job and that’s what we’ll do. We won’t deviate from it. I think we were pretty prepared for this game plan today with a compressed time and we’ll do the same thing. They’ve got to get a little rest, too.”

Noteworthy

*This made me do a double-take. With a win, Ohio State would obviously be off to a 6-1 start – the same record it had after its first seven games last season.

*Tate grabbed 10 rebounds against the Cardinal, moving him past the 600 mark for his career. He’s got 603 now.

*Ohio State entered the Stanford game shooting 28.7 percent from three-point range. They bumped that up to 31.0 percent by going 9 for 21 (42.9 percent) against the Cardinal. Butler is 338th nationally in three-point defense, allowing teams to hit nearly 10 per game and shoot 44 percent.

*Ohio State and Stanford combined to shoot 55 free throws, 30 for the Cardinal and 25 for the Buckeyes. It marked the most combined free throws in an Ohio State game since the Buckeyes and Penn State attempted a combined 60 in their second-round Big Ten tournament game in the 2015-16 season. In that game, Ohio State shot 39, Penn State shot 21 and the Buckeyes won, 79-75. Also, both teams hit exactly two-thirds of their attempts.

*Butler’s McDermott is doubtful for the game after injuring his ankle Friday. The Indianapolis Star reported that a candidate to replace him in the lineup could be freshman Christian David, who has played 11 minutes this season.

*Holtmann isn’t the only tie between the programs. All three of his assistants coached with him there, but two players have crossover ties too. Freshman Kyle Young committed to Butler over Ohio State but changed his mind and followed Holtmann to the Buckeyes, and Ohio State graduate transfer Andrew Dakich was coached by Butler’s LaVall Jordan while he was at his prior school, Michigan.

*Dakich has a career-high 18 points this season. He needs two more to tie his career scoring total at Michigan, spread across three seasons.

*Ohio State is 31-10 all-time against Butler.

  

What does KenPom say?

According to the advanced statistics of KenPom.com, Ohio State has a 42 percent chance to win today’s game. After actually falling one spot to No. 69 in the national rankings with the win against Stanford, Ohio State is projected to lose to Butler by a score of 73-71. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 55 in the country.

Pregame reading

Here's today's story on Holtmann facing his former team. Click here.

Greg Oden is enjoying his return to his first NBA home. I caught up with him for his thoughts. Click here.

Their last time out, the Buckeyes rallied to beat Stanford to set up today's game. Everything you need to know from that game is covered in the postgame blog. Click here.

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy