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Indiana Hoosiers at Ohio State Buckeyes: yeah we’re still doing this

The second game of a brutal three-game stretch is upon us as the Hoosiers hit the road to face a surprisingly excellent Buckeyes squad.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info / How to Watch:

Who? Indiana Hoosiers (12-10 (5-5), #89 KenPom) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (18-5 (9-1), #14 KenPom)

When? Tuesday, January 30th, 7:00 PM, ESPN2

Where? Value City Arena, Columbus, OH

Vegas? OSU -11

Pomeroy? Ohio State 76-63, 13% chance of Indiana victory


And on we go.

The college basketball schedule is often relentless, but Jim Delany’s obsession with bringing Big Ten hoops to the Big Apple has made it even worse. The luck of Indiana’s opponent sequencing and injuries has made it almost impossible.

Just 48 hours after leaving it all on the floor in an impressive, but unsuccessful, attempt at knocking off the Big Ten-leading Boilermakers, Indiana must head out to Columbus and take on one of the other two great teams in the conference in the Buckeyes. The other (Michigan State) will be waiting for them this weekend in Bloomington.

That’s quite the gauntlet for a team down to seven scholarship players, none over 6’7”.

So this week should be a good time! Everyone is already either miserable or emotionally blunted and now we get to face the probable Big Ten Player of the Year. (Purdue fans– hello.)

OSU Four Factors

- eFG% TO% Off. Reb % FT Rate
- eFG% TO% Off. Reb % FT Rate
INDIANA (#99 adj. offense) 51.3% (152nd) 18.1% (127th) 32.0% (87th) 36.4% (100th)
OHIO STATE (#23 adj. defense) 48.2% (67th) 18.9% (180th) 24.8% (34th) 27.2% (43rd)
OHIO STATE (#23 adj. offense) 55.1% (39th) 17.2% (76th) 29.5% (159th) 32.7% (194th)
INDIANA (#105 adj. defense) 51.2% (198th) 19.7% (121st) 29.1% (187th) 31.8% (145th)

What strikes me first about Ohio State is their balance. There’s nothing in their statistical makeup that sticks out as easy to exploit. While they do surrender 41.5% of their total shots against from behind the 3-point line (293rd), Indiana has proven game after game they simply can’t take advantage when the defense is unwilling or unable to lock down the arc. The Hoosiers are shooting 30.5% from deep, ranking 335th nationally. Josh Newkirk leads the team among guys who have attempted at least 20 three-pointers, and he’s hitting 35.1%.

That’s unfathomable when you consider who consistently excellent Indiana was shooting the basketball the past few years.

Anyway, back to the Bucks:

It didn’t take Chris Holtmann long to start rubbing off on Ohio State despite getting an even shorter window to prepare than most new coaches. They play his pace (231st in tempo), they shoot the three well (113th 3PT%) but not often (266th 3PA%), and they take care of the ball (76th TO%). The results have been surprising to say the least. Following an unremarkable nonconference season, Ohio State roared out to a 9-1 start in conference play before being beaten at home by Penn State in one of the more entertaining final minutes of basketball this season.

They’re lead by the likely B1G POY Keita Bates-Diop. I say “likely” because I think Purdue will suffer from having, I’m not kidding, too many good players. It’s too difficult to parse out who is most deserving between Carsen and Vince Edwards (or even Isaac Haas, if you’re into dark horses), whereas KB-D is the out-and-out best player on Ohio State, and they’d be nowhere near the title chase without him. He’s doing everything for the Buckeyes, shooting an eFG% of 57.6%, while being a monster on the glass, protecting the ball, and racking up steals and blocks on defense. He uses more possessions and takes more shots than anyone else on Ohio State and it’s not hard to figure out why.

Perhaps most importantly, he stays on the floor. He’s only being called for 2.2 fouls per 40 minutes, so Holtmann is rarely needing to unexpectedly curb his minutes to maintain his foul situation. He can hit shots from anywhere on the floor and defending him will be an enormously difficult task. Indiana held up extremely well against KB-D’s fellow B1G POY candidates, as both of Purdue’s Edwardses were held to offensive ratings of less than 90, combing for 10-25 from the field and six turnovers.

I’m about to type something I couldn’t fathom typing a couple of months ago, and you may want to be sure you’re seated for this:

Zach McRoberts will likely get the first crack at defending Keita Bates-Diop, because he’s earned it.

McBob’s stat line against Purdue is not going to wow anybody. Hell, his season stat line isn’t going to wow anybody. But he’s proof positive that you can’t see the whole story from the box score. He’s been playing -excellent- defense for the balance of the conference season and his fingerprints were all over the game on Sunday. The box score will say he got six rebounds, but a film review will show several more rebounds that only got secured by Indiana players because he rose up and got a crucial tap.

Let us not forget he blocked 7’2” Isaac Haas clean, even though he was whistled for a foul further review of the film revealed a clean block. I don’t even blame the official on that one, either. When a 7’2” 300 pound guy is going through a 6’6” 200 pound guy to the hoop and loses the ball, there’s almost always a foul involved.

So yeah, put McBob on a B1G POY candidate. That should do just fine. Seriously.

The backcourt tandem of CJ Jackson and Kam Williams will likely give Indiana fits. While they’re coming off their best performance defending the arc, I don’t blame anyone for being skeptical that they can take that act on the road. Jackson is hitting 40.2% from deep while Williams hits 46.9%– both absurd figures even by today’s standards. If Newkirk and RoJo let them run wild behind the arc, things could get ugly early.

Joining KD-B in the frontcourt is freshman Kaleb Wesson, who leads the team in offensive rating largely fueled by his team-leading free throw rate, his ability to protect the ball, and his tremendous offensive rebounding. The battle between him and Juwan Morgan on the block should be entertaining as hell– but Morgan needs to be careful, as Wesson is drawing plenty of fouls. However, he’s got a penchant for getting into foul trouble himself.


  • INDIANA KID VS. INDIANA ALERT: Musa Jallow, come on down! Now, according to the science behind this, Jallow’s big game will wait until he’s actually in Bloomington but we may as well be on alert. Jallow isn’t having a great freshman campaign, running a 60.0 offensive rating in conference play. The Bloomington North product has seen his minutes dwindle in the conference season as he adjusts to the rigors of Big Ten play. But we know he has the talent and maybe a game against his hometown school will coax that back out.
  • EMOTIONAL LETDOWN ALERT: Indiana gave it everything they had to try and knockoff Purdue and could be at risk for a letdown game on the road, particularly with the short turnaround. Meanwhile– Ohio State has been sitting and stewing in Columbus since last Thursday after the unexpected and wild loss to the Nittany Lions. Indiana has not exactly proven themselves to be a, uh, reliable when it comes to stringing together consistent performances. A hangover from their weekend bout could sink them early.
  • COLLIN HARTMAN INJURY UPDATE ALERT: Hartman was a surprise scratch over the weekend following an injury he sustained in practice. It’s the latest in what has been a frustrating string of setbacks for a guy who turned down a real world job to come back to Indiana for another year after having the previous one wrecked by injury. What we were all hoping would be a great comeback/farewell tour has been marred by a series of unfortunate boo-boos.


Ohio State is really good– Indiana isn’t. Ohio State is playing at home– Indiana isn’t. Ohio State rested all weekend– Indiana didn’t. Ohio State by a lot. Like 15 or something. I don’t know. Nothing matters. We’re all just bags of water and electricity floating just far enough away from an inferno to not burn up immediately but not too far that we freeze to death. Existence is prison.