Know Your Enemy: Penn State Hoops vs. No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes
Penn State men’s basketball is in a place it hasn’t been in a very long time: on the bubble for an NCAA tournament berth. The Nittany Lions have had a roller coaster season but are currently 18-9 and 8-6 in the Big Ten, playing some of the best basketball they have in years. They’ve won five of their last six games after beating Illinois and have a chance to head into the Big Ten Tournament with a strong finish in the regular season against four teams all ranked ahead of them in the Big Ten standings.
But first, Penn State has to take care of business against No. 8 Ohio State (22-5, 13-1) at home. The Buckeyes are atop the Big Ten standings after defeating Purdue last week, with their sole loss of the season coming at the hands of the Nittany Lions. Penn State will have the chance to upset the Buckeyes for the second time in the season in front of a White Out crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Zeroing In On Ohio State
Ohio State has cruised through the Big Ten — it’s topped the best teams in the conference, including a then-ranked No. 1 Michigan State and then-ranked No. 3 Purdue. The Buckeyes have only lost five games this season, three times to ranked teams and the others to a solid Butler squad and a confident Penn State team.
Looking at the Buckeyes’ roster, the team has four players averaging double figure points this season, compared to all five starters for the Nittany Lions. The Buckeyes are led by junior forward Keita Bates-Diop. Bates-Diop leads the Big Ten in scoring with 19.9 points per game and is also the only player averaging more than Tony Carr’s 19.2 points per game.
The Buckeyes are also getting solid contributions from senior forward Jae’Sean Tate and junior guard C.J. Jackson. Both players are averaging more than 12 points per game while complimenting Bates-Diop’s game. Still, Ohio State doesn’t have as much size as the Nittany Lions do at each position.
The Nittany Lions gave Ohio State its only loss of the Big Ten season so far, thanks to a half-court heave at the buzzer from Tony Carr. Carr led the Nittany Lions with 28 points in the game, but Keita Bates-Diop also shined with 25 points and nine points in the final 1:42 of the game. Josh Reaves, whose presence was missed during an academic suspension last month, returned just in time for the game in Columbus.
How To Watch The Game
Penn State-Ohio State tips off at the Bryce Jordan Center at 8 p.m. Thursday. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.