Ohio State men's basketball | Analysis: What were the top lineups from last season?

Adam Jardy
Ohio State Buckeyes guard Luther Muhammad (1) celebrates the team's 74-70 win over the Penn State Nittany Lions during theNCAA basketball game at Value City Arena on Feb. 7, 2019. Muhammad led the Buckeyes in scoring with 20 points. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

As the basketball calendar shifts from the 2018-19 season to the one that lies ahead, Ohio State is poised to make a push toward the top of the Big Ten. With a roster that will have just one senior, blending a top-10 recruiting class with a core nucleus of players who have seen extensive playing time should position Chris Holtmann’s team for a noteworthy season.

To see where the Buckeyes might go next year, though, there’s plenty still to look back upon in order to understand what pieces are returning. To that end, here’s what a season’s worth of plus-minus statistics tell us about last year’s team and the prognosis going forward.

The best lineup was…

A lineup that actually started only four games this season. The lineup of C.J. Jackson, Luther Muhammad, Keyshawn Woods, Andre Wesson and Kaleb Wesson had the best plus-minus rating of the season at plus-61. In exactly 154 minutes of playing time, this group scored 284 points and allowed 223.

The second-best lineup started nine of the first 11 games but did not appear in the final 19 games of the season. That group of Jackson, Muhammad, Andre Wesson, Kyle Young and Kaleb Wesson was plus-36 while playing 77:49, mostly during the non-conference slate. It scored 149 points and allowed 113.

The worst lineup was…

It wasn’t used much, but the lineup of Jackson, Muhammad, Musa Jallow, Young and Kaleb Wesson was outscored 22-7 in 7:21. It never played for longer than 2:06 in any game and was clearly a situational lineup, but when it was used it would generally allow at least one field goal.

After that, a lineup of Muhammad, Woods, Jallow, Andre and Kaleb Wesson was minus-13 in 12:26.

The most-used lineup was…

See above. The best lineup was also the most-used lineup, playing almost double as much as the next-most-used lineup. That would be the second-best lineup, naturally.

The common threads there? Jackson, Muhammad, Andre Wesson and Kaleb Wesson.

What was the best “small” lineup?

At various times throughout the season, the Buckeyes either chose or were forced to utilize a lineup without their primary “centers” – Kaleb Wesson, Young and Jaedon LeDee.

So what combination without those three players was the best? It’s a three-way tie, and it’s not much.

Three lineups went plus-5 while playing small: Jackson, Muhammad, Justin Ahrens, Jallow and Andre Wesson in 14:27; Jackson, Muhammad, Duane Washington, Jallow and Andre Wesson in 5:19; and Jackson, Woods, Muhammad, Jallow and Andre Wesson in 12:40.

What was the best lineup of players who will return for the 2019-20 season?

The Buckeyes lose key rotation players in Jackson and Woods and a reserve in LeDee. At least one of those players was on the court for all but eight lineups last season.

None of those eight played any significant amount of time, but one did have a positive plus-minus rating. A lineup of Muhammad, Washington, Jallow, Andre Wesson and Young was plus-8 on the year, scoring 19 points and allowing 11 in 6:39. That group put together a 14-2 run in the too-little, too-late comeback attempt against Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament.

Who had the best individual plus-minus rating?

Plus-minus can be skewed when looking at a small sample size, but over the course of a season it’s more useful. Here’s how the Buckeyes shook out for the 2018-19 season:

Kaleb Wesson +190

C.J. Jackson +129

Keyshawn Woods +74

Luther Muhammad +55

Musa Jallow +39

Justin Ahrens +27

Kyle Young +27

Duane Washington Jr. +26

Andre Wesson +19

Jaedon LeDee -39

Here’s how the numbers looked exclusively in Big Ten regular-season play:

Kaleb Wesson +49

Justin Ahrens +30

C.J. Jackson +6

Musa Jallow -4

Kyle Young -40

Duane Washington Jr. -45

Andre Wesson -55

Jaedon LeDee -60

Keyshawn Woods -65

Luther Muhammad -103

These numbers are impacted by two things: Ahrens’ unprecedented shooting outburst against Iowa and Kaleb Wesson missing the Purdue game. Against the Boilermakers, the best individual plus-minus went to Young at minus-7, and it steadily fell off from there.

Who had the most game-high plus-minus ratings?

Kaleb Wesson, the team’s leading scorer, at six. He finished just ahead of Jackson and Washington, who had five each. All 10 players led the team in plus-minus at least once.


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