No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 12 South Dakota State
When: 2 p.m. Thursday (TNT)
Vegas line: Ohio State by 8
Why Ohio State should win: The Buckeyes are one of the nation’s most efficient teams on both ends of the floor, ranking 27th in offensive (116.3) and 15th in defensive efficiency (95.3). Junior forward Keita Bates-Diop (19.4 ppg, 8.8 rebounds) was the Big Ten Player of the Year and can take over the game in a heartbeat.
Why South Dakota State could win: Ohio State faded at the end of the year, losing three of its last five games and falling to unranked Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Jackrabbits junior forward Mike Daum ranks sixth in the country in scoring (23.6 ppg, 10.3 rebounds) and has a potential NBA future.
Notable: Ohio State was picked 11th in the preseason Big Ten poll. … Ohio State’s Chris Holtmann was the Big Ten Coach of the Year in his first year. Holtmann also won coach-of-the-year honors in the Big South (with Gardner-Webb) and Big East (with Butler). … South Dakota State is the No. 1 defensive rebounding team in the country (30.1 per game). … South Dakota State already owns Power 5 wins over Iowa and Ole Miss and took Colorado to double overtime. … Daum enters with 2,175 career points for the Jackrabbits. … South Dakota State is 0-4 in program history at the NCAA Tournament. … ESPN’s Giant Killer metric gives South Dakota State a 25.2 percent chance of pulling the upset.
Quotable: “It seems like years in the past, if you win your conference tournament, you get that automatic bid and that’s considered a good season. But … we’re holding ourselves more accountable, because we want to be able to come to NCAA March Madness and make some noise and get a win.” — Daum
Prediction: South Dakota State 74, Ohio State 68