In late November and early December, when Ohio State was preparing to play six games in 11 days in three time zones, coach Chris Holtmann called it unique.

Now, entering the NCAA Tournament, the Buckeyes find themselves in a situation that is equally strange in a completely opposite way.

When the Buckeyes begin the tournament on Thursday afternoon against South Dakota State, it will be only their second game in 20 days. Owing to the quirky Big Ten schedule this season and a one-and-done performance in the conference tournament, fifth-seeded Ohio State figures to be plenty rested when it tips off against the 12th-seeded Jackrabbits in Boise, Idaho.

The burning question, one that won’t be answered until the game gets underway, is obvious: Will Ohio State also be rusty, out of sync and primed for an upset? It’s a situation that led Holtmann to seek out advice from coaches including Brad Stevens and Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall on how to handle the time off.

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Although it led to Holtmann devising a plan, the culmination of it hit a snag. Ohio State traveled to Denison University for an intrasquad scrimmage on Friday, but because of a busing issue the players had to carpool with the coaches in a caravan-like procession.

“It was good to go and scrimmage at a different place and have a meal together and spend some time together,” Holtmann said. “You get a chance to actually talk to your guys and spend some time with them on a different level.”

South Dakota State is facing a similar break from game action. The Jackrabbits won the Summit League tournament on March 6, giving them nine days between games.

“I suppose it’s better maybe (that they also have a layoff) than not, but I don’t know how much that all factors in,” Holtmann said. “I am kind of anxious to see what I feel like after the fact, how that (layoff) may or may not affect us.”

The result didn’t show it, but the weeklong break between the regular-season finale at Indiana and loss to Penn State in a Big Ten quarterfinal helped the Buckeyes, particularly forward Keita Bates-Diop.

In the loss to the Nittany Lions, the Big Ten player of the year shot 50 percent from the field for the first time since an early-February win at Purdue. Afterward, he pronounced himself back in midseason form.

Junior guard C.J. Jackson, who dealt with significant cramping issues late in the season, echoed those thoughts after the Penn State game.

“We had more fight to us,” he said. “We had a week off as well, so that allowed us to have a little more energy playing and we weren’t laying down kind of how we did at their place.”

The time away gave the Buckeyes chances to fine-tune their plans, Bates-Diop said, but wholesale overhauls weren’t in the offing. Plus, the break allowed OSU to stew over an early exit in a tournament it expected to win.

“We’re going to have a lot of motivation going into the (NCAA) Tournament,” sophomore Micah Potter said after the Penn State game. “Obviously we had the season we did for a reason. We’ve got the Big Ten player of the year, we’ve got all-freshman team, we’ve got second-team all-Big Ten (and) we’ve got the coach of the year, so we’ve got a lot of pieces.”