The Ohio State Buckeyes will in fact be dancing again, as on Selection Sunday, they found out that they would be the West Region’s No. 5 seed, and will be facing the No. 12 South Dakota State Jackrabbits. The two teams will face off on Thursday, March 15 in Boise, Idaho, at 4 p.m. ET.
Now, as you start putting together your bracket(s)— for entertainment purposes only—, one of the truisms to keep in mind is that you can almost bank on at least one No. 12 seed pulling off the upset. So, if the Buckeyes are going to avoid becoming a victim of the tried-and-true trend, that means that they will have to withstand the high-octane attack from SDSU.
Led by one of the most versatile players in the country, junior forward Mike Daum, the Jackrabbits shoot early and often; their 979 field goals ranks 16th nationally. They also attempted the sixth-most three-pointers (361) in the country this season, and connected on 40.3 percent, good for 12th best. The Jackrabbits’ 84.9 points per game was the sixth highest total in all of Division I college basketball this season.
Daum was the Summit League’s Player of the Year, averaging 23.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game, while also shooting 42.1 percent from behind the arc. Daum also won the award as a sophomore in the 2016-17 season.
He was joined in the conference awards slate by guard David Jenkins Jr., who was selected as the league’s Freshman of the Year. In his first year of college basketball, Jenkins averaged 16.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.
In just his second season at SDSU, T.J. Otzelberger was honored as the Summit League Coach of the Year. The Jackrabbits lost to Gonzaga in the Round of 64 in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Should SDSU upset The Buckeyes, they will have the opportunity to get revenge in their second tournament game on Saturday.
In addition to Daum (First Team) and Jenkins (Second and All-Newcomer Team), SDSU guard/forward Reed Tellinghuisen received an All-Summit League Honorable Mention. Those three are the Jackrabbits only players to average in double-figures on the season.
Ken Pomeroy rates the Jackrabbits as the 75th best team in the country while currently having OSU at 15th.
Despite being the higher seed, Ohio State does face a tough task in SDSU, as they have struggled against guard-heavy teams with the ability to connect from downtown. At 6-foot-9, Daum is the tallest player on the team that averages more than five points per game, but as evidenced by his 91 three-pointers on the season, he is more of a perimeter player—as is 6-foot-7 Tellinghuisen.
However, on the defensive end, the Jackrabbits can get after it on the glass. Their 1,019 defensive rebounds were the second most in the country on the year, and their 1,321 boards were the 13th most nationally as well.
So, while playing a 12th-seeded mid-major from South Dakota might lull some Buckeye fans into a false sense of security for OSU’s first tournament game, everyone in Buckeye Nation should be on notice that these Jackrabbits are very capable of being this year’s No. 12 Cinderella.