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Q&A: Previewing Indiana men’s basketball’s game against Ohio State with Land-Grant Holy Land

We sat down with our pals at the Ohio State site to talk men’s hoops.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Alie Skowronski/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Indiana men’s basketball is set to face Ohio State at 7:00 p.m. ET tonight in Columbus. We reached out to our friends at Land-Grant Holy Land with a few questions about the Buckeyes.

Here’s what they had to say:

What’s Ohio State’s Greatest Strength?

Ohio State’s biggest strength this season is without a doubt their offensive efficiency. The Buckeyes are shooting 47.9% from the floor this season, which is second in the Big Ten behind only Purdue. They rarely take “bad shots” and have cut back on the number of three-pointers they’ve attempted over the past two weeks. KenPom has them as the 9th-most efficient offense in the nation this season. As long as they avoid turnovers, they’re tough to beat.

What’s Ohio State’s Biggest Weakness?

For most of the season I’d say that Ohio State’s biggest weakness was their defense, but lately they’ve been crushed on the boards on both ends — most recently during their loss to Iowa. Iowa out-rebounded Ohio State 40-31 Saturday night, but more eye-popping was the 20 offensive rebounds the Hawkeyes grabbed. The Buckeyes have a great offense, but opposing teams are dominating time of possession due to the massive rebounding disadvantage. Ohio State can’t score with some teams because they simply don’t have the ball enough.

Which non-E.J. Liddell player should Indiana fans worry about the most?

Malaki Branham is the non-E.J. Liddell player that IU will have to worry most about. Branham is a tall, lanky guard who slashes to the basket with ease and has scored 20+ points four times this season. He’s also shooting 45.8% from 3-point range this season, which is the best of any Buckeye and the second-best in the Big Ten this season. He’s a true “three level” scorer who gets buckets in bunches.

What went wrong for Ohio State in its last game against Indiana?

The last time these two teams met, Ohio State was coming off a three-week long pause due to COVID-19. That’s not an excuse for losing by 16, but I think fatigue was a big factor. The Buckeyes kept within arm’s reach for the first 30 minutes or so, and then everything snowballed. Also, Trayce Jackson-Davis simply dominated. OSU needs a better game plan for him this time, or we very well see much of the same — sans the tired legs and lungs.

What kind of home court environment can the Hoosiers expect?

The Schott isn’t what I would call a “great” home atmosphere. The building is a cavern that holds 19,500 people, and Ohio State rarely sells it out. Last time against Iowa, they did put nearly 16,000 people in the stands, so there’s some reason to hope that the Buckeyes will have at least a little bit of a home court advantage. But it isn’t a very rowdy home environment, and I don’t think many teams fear playing at the Schott. The home court advantage will help, but not a ton.

Who will win and why?

I think Ohio State wins this game because they’re coming off one of their worst losses of the season in front of their home fans. After getting shoved around by Iowa and letting them dominate on the glass like they did, the Buckeyes have to respond. I still think Trayce Jackson-Davis will be a big problem, but I also think that E.J. Liddell is going to play much better against IU on Monday than he did last time after having three weeks off (he had 11 points last time).

I’d call it, Ohio State 73, Indiana 69.