Despite a frantic second-half rally on Tuesday night, the Buckeyes were unable to pull level with a wily Louisville team that harried Ohio State's offense all night. It was the first real test for a young team who had rolled past inferior opposition in the first few weeks of the season. The high-octane Buckeye offense was held to just 18 first-half points, a season low.
Saturday's game probably won't be like that.
Colgate University, nestled in the scenic hills of Hamilton, NY, is not what one would call a basketball powerhouse. While the Raiders count Andy Rooney and all five members of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe as alumni, their excellence tends not to manifest itself on the basketball court. Adonal Foyle notwithstanding, this is not a historically great hoops program.
History doesn't really matter for this game, obviously, but the present hasn't been kind to Colgate either. The Raiders of th Patriot League are 1-6 in the this season. Their lone win, interestingly enough, came against the same Campbell Fightin' Camels that Ohio State torched a few weeks ago. Colgate squeaked out a 6 point victory in that one. The Buckeyes, as you may recall, beat the Camels by a paltry 27 points.
In the interests of journalistic integrity, we can take a look at the biggest positive for the Raiders in 2014: point differential. Despite their record, they have made every game this season a contest -- their most lopsided loss this season is by 7 points. Their closest was by a single point to the same Sacred Heart team that Ohio State dispatched recently. It's hard to imagine that being the case on Saturday, but the Patriot League will surely be kinder to the Raiders than the Buckeyes will be. (Although they do also face Syracuse later this season, a team that held them to 8 first-half points several years ago at the Carrier Dome.)
On Ohio State's side of things, look for the Buckeyes to push the tempo early and set the tone. Shannon Scott, who was looking like one of the best two-way players in the country heading into the Louisville game, was held to just 3 points and no assists in 22 minutes of action. He ceded 17 minutes to Kam Williams, who added 7 points of his own. Freshman phenom D'Angelo Russell was the Buckeyes' best player against the Cardinals, so look for him to keep up his hot streak against a team with much less defensive firepower than Pitino's.
Numbers to know:
Colgate is averaging 63.0 PPG this season. That total is good for 266th in the country. Don't expect the Buckeyes, who have found a pretty good balance blending zone and man looks on defense this year, to let the Raiders improve too much on that margin. Ohio State is 19th nationally in the same category.
The Buckeyes have yet to allow more than 64 points in a game in 2014. They've given up that total twice, to Louisville and Campbell (pretty comparable teams IMO). Ohio State teams in years past might have struggled to match even that paltry total, but they're outpacing it by quite a bit in 2014. Bill Simmons doesn't write for SB Nation (yet), so we won't get into the Aaron Craft Ewing Theory potential, but this is a different offense than fans in Columbus are used to seeing.
With just over 17 assists per game, the Buckeyes sit at No. 18 in the country in that category. Their continued ability to create opportunities out of their offensive sets with effective passing will serve them well down the stretch, especially with more stingy defenses ahead on the schedule.
Cast of characters:
Russell, a true freshman, has been one of the sparkplugs of this rejuvenated Ohio State offense. He's putting up 17.8 points per game, and has been Shannon Scott's first look when the Buckeyes get the offense going. Russell is a great distributor, too, averaging 5.7 assists a game and helping create plays in an offense that struggled mightily last season to get any kind of creativity going. Look for him to build on his excellent numbers against a team that doesn't have the personnel to shut him down.
Scott might be coming off the worst game of his Buckeye career following the loss to Louisville. Scott was just 1-7 from the floor, including 0-5 from inside the arc. He turned the ball over 5 times to a smothering Cardinals defense that never allowed him to get comfortable directing the flow of things. A strong showing against Colgate would go a long way towards helping the senior guard forget Tuesday's performance and get back on track. Scott actually has more assists than points this season despite not recording one against the Cardinals, with 52 so far this season (including a ridiculous 16 against Sacred Heart).
The senior from Anchorage, Alaska leads the Raiders in scoring this season. A 6'5 guard, Sherman-Newsome is shooting at a 50% clip from the floor in 2014. He's not bad from deep, either, and attempts 5 treys a game. Sherman-Newsome was easily Colgate's best player in their win against Campbell, putting up a whopping 29 points in a game in which the Raiders only scored 54. He'll have the unfortunate task of guarding Shannon Scott or D'Angelo Russell on the defensive side of the ball on Saturday.
The 6'4 guard from Scottsdale, AZ is not a high-volume scorer. But he does crash the boards like no one else on the Raiders' roster, leading the team with 7.4 rebounds per game. A senior, Roh has 15 pounds on D'Angelo Russell, so look for him to try to throw his weight around to pull down boards on the defensive side of the ball. An interesting side note is that Roh should probably pull the trigger more often when he does have the ball on offense -- he only puts up 7.7 points a game, but he's shooting at a 68.6% rate from the floor in 2014.
How to watch, listen, and stream
Game time: 4:30 pm E.T.
TV: Big Ten Network and BTN2
Radio: 97.1 FM
Online streaming: BTN2GO