NCAA Tournament first round
No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 12 South Dakota State
Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate could prove to be a matchup problem for South Dakota State in the teams' NCAA tournament opener Thursday.
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Time: 4 p.m.
Records: Ohio State is 24-8; SDSU is 28-6
Radio: 106.5 FM
Series: First meeting
Ohio State on offense: Keita Bates-Diop is Ohio State’s best player, though his frontcourt mates will be hugely important in this game. SDSU has two long wing defenders that can match with Bates-Diop, but the same cannot be said of Jae’Sean Tate or Kaleb Wesson. Tate is only 6-foot-4 but crafty and physical, and at 6-foot-9 and 270 pounds, Wesson is at least 20 pounds bigger than everyone on South Dakota State’s roster. The Buckeyes certainly will want the ball in the post with some very favorable matchups, plus the lure of potentially drawing the Jackrabbits’ two best 3-point shooters into foul trouble. Look for the Buckeyes to play inside-out, which will lead to a lot of high-quality shots if they succeed.
Ohio State on defense: The Jackrabbits have a versatile offense, and not just for a mid-major team. Forward Mike Daum is averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds, point guard David Jenkins will present a matchup problem for an Ohio State team that is thin at guard, and the Jackrabbits have five players who are threats to shoot 3-pointers. One of them, forward Skyler Flatten, attempted 109 shots from behind the arc and shot 50 percent. Bates-Diop and Wesson both are capable matchups for Daum, but OSU will win or lose this game on its perimeter defense. The Buckeyes are in good shape if SDSU is playing deep into the shot clock, but they’re in for a long afternoon if the Jackrabbits are shooting open 3s.
Notes: Ohio State is making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2015, when the Buckeyes defeated Virginia Commonwealth in the first round but lost to Arizona in the round of 32. … South Dakota State has been in the NCAA tournament five times in the past seven years and still is looking for its first victory. The No. 12 Jackrabbits were within one score in the final minute against No. 5 Maryland in 2016, but fell 79-74. … Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann’s teams are 4-3 in the NCAA tournament, which includes a 3-0 mark in first-round games. Holtmann’s Butler team advanced to the Sweet 16 last season, his best finish as a coach. … Ohio State is playing its first-ever game in Idaho. … The winner of this game will play the winner of fourth-seeded Gonzaga and No. 13 North Carolina-Greensboro on Saturday.
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