#1 Purdue (13-1, Big 10 2-1) vs. Ohio State (10-3, Big 10 2-0)
January 5, 2023, 7:00 EST
Schottenstein Center, Columbus, Ohio
Ohio State Starting Lineup
|C||23||Zed Key||Jr||6'8"||255||Bay Shore, NY|
|F||10||Brice Sensabaugh||Fr||6'6"||235||Orlando, FL|
|F||14||Justice Sueing||Sr||6'6"||210||Honolulu, HI||Cal|
|G||4||Sean McNeil||Grad||6'4"||205||Union, KY||West Virginia|
|G||2||Bruce Thornton||Fr||6'2"||215||Alpharetta, GA|
Ohio State Bench
|C||34||Felix Okpara||Fr||6'11"||220||Lagos, Nigeria|
|G/F||0||Tanner Holden||Sr||6'6"||200||Wheelersburg, OH||Wright State|
|G||1||Roddy Gayle||Fr||6'4"||205||Niagara Falls, NY|
Ohio State On Offense
With an undersized-but-kind-of-medium-sized core, there’s a lot of movement on offense. They spread out relying on drives into the lane unless the Bucks have a mismatch down low, which they won’t find often against Purdue. More often than not, they don’t, but their offense excels at off-the-ball movement, much like Purdue’s.
You got a guy like Key, who looks like a right tackle slimmed down to play tight end, bumping backward in the crease before one or two guys switch to guarding him down low. Rutgers managed to put Edey on the bench in the first half, and Key can draw fouls. Ohio State might look for him early. When he doesn’t have anything in the post, he flicks it out to a mid-range jumper or an open shot in three point land. He’s also a stud offensive re bounder.
On the perimeter, Brice Sensabaugh and Bruce Thornton are the players to watch. Purdue’s been good at guarding the 3 point line this year, and they need to keep it up. Both Thornton and Sensabaugh are shooting over 45%. When they’re open, they hit shots, when they’re covered, they hit slightly fewer shots. Purdue can’t get caught over helping on defense, because these guys can break off a 3 possession, 9 point run like it’s nothing. Hopefully they rub up against a few Boilermaker guards and infect them with a 3 point shot.
Ohio State on Defense
The Buckeyes aren’t collectively the tallest team in the land, but they sure are physical. Their “small ball” lineup combinations are much more like “medium ball” in my eyes. The core of their group plays tight against driving guards while avoiding foul trouble and forcing tough shots. For guys like Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith, the reliance on Zach Edey crowding the lane and drawing defenders out of position will be key against a player like Key. Sorry about that one.
What I’ve seen Ohio State do (and Zed Key specifically) is show snag rebounds away from centers and power forwards several inches taller than they are. They have strong, sturdy tweener bigs (mediums? media?) who epitomize the fundamental basketball concept of boxing out. That’s going to be more difficult against a team with Purdue’s length, but they have shown they can do it.
They crowd the lane well, but in turn that has led to situations involving a guard sneaking out beyond the arc for an open three. Earlier this week, Northwestern couldn’t take advantage of those, but it shows a blueprint for Matt Painter’s team to create open shots with off-the-ball movement like they’ve been able to create against top 25 competition all season. They just need to hit them.
Here’s their weakness: they simply do not create turnovers. They’re great defenders, but they play very cautious defense, much like Purdue. Their steal percentage of 6.9 ranks 338th in the nation. They’re facing a team who plays a sure-handed possessive offense: Purdue is ranked 20th in the country with a 15.7% offensive turnover ratio. If Ohio State wants to beat an assuredly butt-hurt Purdue squad coming off their first loss of the season, they’ll need to do better in pilfering possessions, especially if the Boilermakers lock down the defensive glass.
X-Factor - Rebounding
In facing a smaller but very physical Buckeyes roster, Purdue simply can’t afford to allow Ohio State to regain the ball after resetting the shot clock.
They are the 9th best offensive rebounding teams in the nation, and they do it by committee. Purdue’s wings have to box out their guys, otherwise they will swarm Edey like locusts on the offensive glass. If Purdue limits Ohio Stat’s 2nd chance opportunities, they should pull this one out.
Purdue - 70
Ohio State - 72
Purdue - 71
Ohio State - 65
Ohio State doesn’t have a true seven-footer who can compete with Edey’s length and power in the paint. I see the Boilermakers taking control down low enough to where they can squeak out a tough road win.