Ohio State basketball returns to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year absence, with the No. 5 seed Buckeyes set to take on No. 12 seed South Dakota State in the first round on Thursday, March 15.
The Buckeyes have already wildly exceeded preseason predictions, having been picked to finish anywhere from 11th to 14th in the Big Ten by various media outlets. But a stretch in which Ohio State won 17 of 19 games from December to mid-February recalibrated expectations, especially since it came with wins against eventual top-3 seeds Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State.
The Buckeyes will be looking to shake off a couple of challenges when they take on the Jackrabbits. They lost three of their last five games, ending the season on somewhat of a swoon after a scorching start to Big Ten play. Additionally, thanks to an unusual conference schedule this year and an early exit from the Big Ten Tournament, the Buckeyes have played just one game over the last 19 days.
2018 NCAA Tournament: Ohio State-South Dakota State date, time
Ohio State and South Dakota State play at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 15.
Time: 4 p.m. ET
Date: Thursday, March 15
Location: Taco Bell Arena, Boise, Idaho
2018 NCAA Tournament: Ohio State-South Dakota State TV channel
Ohio State-South Dakota State will be broadcast on TNT. Brian Anderson (play-by-play), Chris Webber (analysis) and Lisa Byington (sideline) will be on the call.
How can I watch Ohio State-South Dakota State online?
The game — and all NCAA Tournament games — will be streaming on the March Madness Live app.
How can I listen to the Ohio State-South Dakota State basketball game on the radio?
Paul Keels will have the call on 97.1 FM (WBNS) in Columbus. A full list of Buckeye basketball radio affiliates can be found here. It will also be broadcast on Sirius 145/XM 203 for satellite radio listeners.
Ohio State-South Dakota State basketball preview
Ohio State could face a big challenge from South Dakota State, which features standout 6-foot-9 forward Mike Daum. He had the highest 2016-17 scoring average of any returning player in the country at 25.1 points, and he’s nearly matched that this year by putting up 23.8 points per contest over 34 games. He also averaged 10.4 rebounds per game, but perhaps the most astonishing stat is that despite his size he’s made 42.1 percent of his 216 attempts from 3-point range.
In addition to having Daum on their side, the Jackrabbits have also won 19 of their last 20 games and enter the matchup on an 11-game winning streak. The contrast with Ohio State’s sluggish finish has made South Dakota State a popular pick for an upset bid.
“I get it,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “I understand why people are picking them a lot. They have a pro. They have great experience. They’ve got a really talented team. It’s not just Daum. They have really talented guys around him, a terrific freshman guard. People look not only at the 12-5 matchup and historically what that’s been, but the fact that those guys have great experience being in this thing. When you have a pro on your roster, it makes a big difference.
“I think we know we’re going to need to be sharp. We’re going to need to play well. We’re going to need to score the ball against their defense and be able to make it difficult for them. They’re a very gifted offensive team, and they play through their guys exceptionally well. They’ve got athleticism. They play really well together. … I think when you get into this thing you realize that any team you play in this thing is good. Certainly when you get in kind of those middle-seeded games you’re playing a really talented team. And we certainly are.”
The good news for the Buckeyes is that they have superior talent and can counter Daum with Big Ten Player of the Year Keita Bates-Diop. The Ohio State forward has also been impressive, averaging 19.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. And with 54 blocks in 32 games, his shot-altering ability could prove good enough to slow down Daum on the offensive end.
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