Hoops Preview: Ohio State

Submitted by Ace on December 4th, 2017 at 2:03 PM


WHAT #42 Michigan (7-2) at
#61 Ohio State (6-3)
WHERE Value City Arena
Columbus, Ohio
WHEN 6:31 pm ET, Monday
LINE OSU -1 (KenPom)
OSU -2 (Bovada)
PBP: Tim Brando
Analyst: Jim Jackson

Right: You're the Them now. [Patrick Barron]


Michigan gets a two-day turnaround with a road trip to face an Ohio State team also coming off a two-day turnaround with a road trip. The condensed Big Ten schedule with early-December conference games is already impacting the coaches. When asked about Ohio State after the Indiana game, John Beilein said this: "I have no idea what Ohio State's doing. I have no idea."

The good news is Buckeye coach Chris Holtmann, freshly imported from Butler, is probably in the same boat two days after a trip to the Kohl Center. While Michigan essentially cut their rotation to nine players for Saturday's Indiana game, Beilein wouldn't commit to sticking to that group—Jaaron Simmons is still in the mix for minutes and we could see some Ibi Watson if Jordan Poole is a little gassed after essentially doubling his season minute total. Perhaps we'll get more clarity on the rotation tonight; we could also see it expand a bit given the short rest.

Speaking of the Indiana game, I've got a set of gfycats for you to peruse.



Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
G 15 Kam Williams Sr. 6'2, 185 49 16 99 No
39% career three-point shooter off to slow start. Not a PG.
G 2 Musa Jallow Fr. 6'5, 200 59 13 100 Yes
Low usage, good finisher, struggling with outside shot.
F 1 Jae'Sean Tate Sr. 6'4, 230 74 24 103 Yes
Power forward stuck in shorter Charles Barkley's body. Good passer.
F 33 Keita Bates-Diop Jr. 6'7, 235 80 23 117 Not At All
Doing it all: scoring inside and out, rebounding, blocking shots.
C 34 Kaleb Wesson Fr. 6'9, 270 49 22 128 Very
Excellent post scorer, good offensive rebounder, turnover-prone.
G 3 CJ Jackson Jr. 6'1, 175 74 25 101 No
Better shooter than finisher. Turnover-prone for PG.
G 13 Andrew Dakich Sr. 6'2, 190 35 14 103 Kinda
Seriously. Tiny usage, doesn't shoot often, sky-high turnover rate.
F 24 Andre Wesson So. 6'6, 200 31 21 64 Yes
35% three-point shooter last year off to awful start.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]


After the disastrous end to the Thad Matta era, Ohio State is mostly starting anew under Chris Holtmann. Starters Marc Loving, JaQuan Lyle, and Trevor Thompson are gone—only Loving had exhausted his eligibility—and a decent chunk of the bench left with them. Unsurprisingly, the Buckeyes got off to an uneven start this year, getting blown out by Gonzaga, losing a late double-digit lead to Butler (Holtmann's former team), and falling at home to Clemson before bouncing back on Saturday with an unexpected shellacking of Wisconsin at the Kohl Center.

There are still a few familiar faces hanging around Columbus. After injury derailed last season, forward Keita Bates-Diop is delivering on the potential that made him a coveted recruit, including by Michigan. Bates-Diop is a deadeye spot-up shooter who can also operate as a screener and post-up option; on the other end, he's a solid shot-blocker and excellent rebounder.

Jae'Sean Tate is maybe the most unusual player in the conference. At 6'4", 230, he's an interior-oriented scorer and rebounder who lacks a refined outside shot. I'd describe him as a plus garbage guy, except on an OSU team looking for a point guard, he's also become one of the team's primary passers—he acted as the starting point against Wisconsin. He's not wildly efficient as a distributor—his assist and turnover rates are nearly level—but OSU doesn't have a lot of options there, as you'll see.

The other main returner is Kam Williams, an undersized two-guard shooting specialist. He's off to a 9-for-27 start from three but he's a career 40% shooter from downtown. He's been splitting time with freshman Musa Jallow, who gives the team more size and the ability to score at the basket; he hasn't found his shot yet this year, though.

Of late, Jallow has been a fixture in the starting lineup, while Williams has gone back-and-forth with point guard CJ Jackson. Jackson is a good shooter and has the athleticism to get to the hoop, but hasn't finished well there and has a turnover rate right up there with his assist rate. The other option at the point is one Andrew Dakich, who's on scholarship for his final year of eligibility. Dakich has a microscopic usage for a point guard, almost never shoots, and turns the ball over on 40% of his possessions. You can bet his former teammates are looking to make plays on him, too.

Up front, 270-pound freshman Kaleb Wesson is going to be another challenge for Moe Wagner in the post. He's grading out in the 87th percentile as a post scorer, per Synergy, and he's drawing a whopping 8.2 fouls per 40 minutes while canning 71% of his free throws. The good news for Michigan is Wesson has a hard time staying out of foul trouble himself and he's the only true big man in the rotation. 6'8", 205-pound freshman Kyle Young will get some time but isn't exactly a post player; with Micah Potter injured, OSU is more likely to go small with Bates-Diop and Tate operating out of the post.


Small sample size caveats apply.

Four Factors explanation

Ohio State hasn't been a very good halfcourt offensive team, so they're going to look to run out in transition, where they can better take advantage of their athleticism. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Michigan doesn't cede many transition opportunties, and per Synergy they're grading out as one of the very best transition defenses in the nation (97th percentile). Meanwhile, the Buckeyes could allow Michigan to get out on the run, as they're well into the bottom half of the country in turnover rate.

On defense, the Buckeyes do a solid job defending inside the arc and a great job of clearing the boards, but they're allowing a ton of three-point looks. If Michigan can drive and kick like they did against Indiana, or get out on the run as often, they could put up a big point total.


Slow the post offense. Moe Wagner had a really rough defensive game on Saturday against Juwan Morgan and gets another tough matchup with Kaleb Wesson, the type of skilled large post player who can get Wagner into foul trouble. There's two ways for Michigan to get around this matchup: give Wagner more help and try to force the pass-averse Wesson to make shots over two players and/or attack Wesson enough with Wagner on the other end enough to get the freshman into foul trouble. If Wesson is on the bench, OSU has to go small, and that means Wagner (or Teske) can feast inside while Charles Matthews attacks the rim without fear.

Control the tempo. Ohio State needs to get out in transition to be an efficient offensive team. Michigan makes it really difficult to do that by controlling the pace in the halfcourt, taking great care of the ball, and eschewing offensive rebound attempts to get back on defense. That approach shouldn't change, and it should give Michigan an advantage. Meanwhile, Buckeye turnovers should lead to three-point opportunities for the likes of Duncan Robinson and Jordan Poole; Michigan should look to push the pace on offense when given the opportunity, especially since OSU boasts a stingy interior defense. 

Put Dakich on a poster. This is all I ask.


Ohio State by 1.

While I like most of the matchups for Michigan, Bates-Diop is going to be tough to slow down, and Wesson could have a huge game against Wagner if Michigan's interior defense doesn't improve a whole lot from where it was on Sunday. If Wagner can't stay out of foul trouble, a road win will be tough to come by.


UMHoops preview.



December 4th, 2017 at 2:21 PM ^

Are you kidding? I get it, road game, quick turnaround. Seriously, there is no damn way we lose this game. Too much talent on our end, and much better coaching. Plus, it's OSU, and we owe them from the game at Crisler last year.


December 4th, 2017 at 2:55 PM ^

We all attended the same high school, Westerville South. Followed the boys their whole career, Kaleb is already a beast at the collegiate level. Can't help but to root for them, yet hope they lose! 

Wish Beilein could make some noise at South on the recruiting trail. Coach Calo has one of the best programs in the state of Ohio, and consistently puts out D1 talent.

Go Blue!

Big Boutros

December 4th, 2017 at 2:59 PM ^

The Kenpom line is a sample size error. Does not pass the sniff test.

Andrew Dakich plays 35% of available minutes for this team. They have more turnovers than assists. They got spanked at home by Clemson, a team roughly Michigan's equal according to the same metric. They lost to Butler, who is worse than Michigan according to the same metric. They barely beat Radford!

How nice for them that they crushed Wisconsin but I think that says a lot more about Greg Gard's crap-filled pants than about how great OSU is.


December 4th, 2017 at 4:44 PM ^

I hate listening to Dakich now. He always talks about how it's his job to be impartial, and then he calls the entire game less like an announcer and more like a dad talking about his kid's team. If he was like this the 4 (or however many) years Andrew played for you guys, you have my pity. 


December 4th, 2017 at 3:43 PM ^

They barely beat Radford?  We had a tougher time with CMU who is worse than Radford!

They lost to Butler?  We lost to LSU who is worse than Butler!

They play Dakich 35% of minutes?  We play Zavier Simpson 43% of minutes and he's been worse than Dakich!

Just because they lost to Clemson, which is a tiny sample, doesn't mean we're definitely going to beat them or that kenpom is somehow "wrong" about the overall quality of what they've done so far.  They also spanked Wisconsin at the Kohl Center which is impressive no matter how down the Badgers are.

We're probably the better team (again, small samples are all we have), and kenpom has us ranked as such. No one is saying they're great, but they're not chopped liver. At their place, it's a tossup. Road conference games are hard.


December 4th, 2017 at 3:11 PM ^

Wagner + Teske, but I don't know if we'll see it.

Teske is a much better matchup on Wesson, and Bates-Diop doesn't appear to be a slasher so I think Wagner could be fine on him (similarly Duncan shouldn't get crushed too badly by KBD).

I would expect to see Mathews on Tate and that'll be interesting because Tate has a lot of weight on Matthews.  Will be kind of a length v. strength battle. Livers could potentially body up with Tate when Wesson is off the floor and they're running Tate at the 4.

Will be interesting to see if Holtmann takes a page out of Painter's book and puts KBD on Wagner instead of asking Wesson to guard him.

Conference road games are never easy and this won't be an exception.  Would go a long way towards our tourney chances to get this one.


December 4th, 2017 at 6:18 PM ^

When Teske is in the game, our offense already changes to accomodate him at the 5.

Playing Wagner as the stretch four in those cases instead of Duncan changes virtually nothing about the offense and it gives you another late clock option on isos (something you don't have from Duncan).

It's a much more natural position for Wagner anyway and it's the position he'll play in the pros.

It's going to happen, it's just a matter of when.  What would be awesome to see is Wagner handling the ball on the pick and roll with Teske!


December 4th, 2017 at 6:39 PM ^

Sorry I wasn't very clear. I have no opinion on whether its a good idea or not because its (playing 2 bigs together) something coach has almost never done and is not really part of his 'system'.
If it was really a matter of when not if I would assume we would have seen something similar previously.


December 4th, 2017 at 3:15 PM ^

But that trio of burly interior dudes will be a test for Michigan's new found ability to clean the glass. If Michigan can find a solid interior defensive presence between Teske and Livers (Who have much more rebounding upside than Wagner and Robinson, respectively) I think Michigan wins fairly easily.

If Michigan gets bullied on the glass, it will be a dogfight contingent on Michigan hitting ~40% of their 3s.

On a different note, I love this freshman class. Brooks and Poole already look the part of solid B1G players. Poole might be on the fast track to stardom, and Brooks made a couple of plays against Indiana that belied his age. The one that stuck out most to me was in an attempt to push the tempo because Michigan had numbers, he blindly felt a trailing IU defender try to pick his pocket at the top of the key, slowed up, protected the ball, and got Michigan set up in the half court. It was a small thing that was extremely impressive to me after watching him dribble into trouble several times in previous games.

If Livers is improving at a similar rate, he is due for a breakout performance. He has the ability to be one of those invaluable dirty work glue guys who opponents hate going against because he is just all over the place. He is already a playmaker; he just needs to make more plays for Michigan and fewer for opponents. I'm really excited to see how this team comes together.


December 4th, 2017 at 3:24 PM ^

Is there any specific (Andrew) Dakich beef or do you just want him to be dunked on bc he's the most likely target to be dunked on?

I always liked Dakich for us.  Not necessarily as a player, but he was good on the podcast and seemed like a great guy.  He also was willing to burn his redshirt for the team, when necessary.  Would've preferred he not go to OSU, but it was a good opportunity for him.  I'm would love for him to succeed this year (not OSU, just him).  


December 4th, 2017 at 3:49 PM ^

Ohio still has the remaining core of a couple good Thad Motta classes. But Michigan has a better front court, and if Ohio is playing Dakich I think that bodes fairly well.