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Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop has more to prove in NCAA Tournament

The Buckeyes could go as far as Bates-Diop takes them.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

“I think it’s given me a better appreciation for not just basketball, but everything in life. Everybody always talks about how you’re blessed to be able to play this game, but until something happens to someone close to you where it could be taken away, you don’t fully appreciate it.”

- Keita Bates-Diop via Bill Landis,

Keita Bates-Diop has more than one reason to try and make a name for himself in the NCAA tournament. He obviously will want to be at the top of his game for Ohio State to have a chance to make some noise, but he has a higher motive as well. His younger brother’s basketball career was cut short after an undetected heart issue ended any dreams of playing basketball later in life. So now Bates-Diop plays for two. He wants to make the most of his time playing the sport and as a top 30 talent in college this season, he’s made his family proud, along with himself.

Ohio State opens up tournament play on Thursday after entering the NCAA tournament as a fifth-seed. They’ll go head-to-head against an upbeat 12th-seeded South Dakota State team that likes to shoot the three, and do it well. The Buckeyes have struggled against teams like that and so far, the Jackrabbits are a popular upset pick in the first round of the tournament. But, Chris Holtmann has a history of working his magic in March, so the Buckeyes won’t back down easily.

“But Burrow is still around, still talented and still drawing praise from Urban Meyer. All of those things are relevant, and it’s probably time to take them more seriously when breaking down this battle throughout in spring camp.”

- Austin Ward, Land of 10

The quarterback battle rages on at Ohio State as spring practice continues, but it’s interesting that most people are interested in Dwayne Haskins or Tate Martell. Urban Meyer has been quite clear that Joe Burrow is no pushover in this competition, and if it wasn’t for an injury last season, Burrow might have been the backup when Barrett went down against Michigan. Meyer constantly is mentioning how close the backup battle was last season, and it’s now progressed to a fight for the starting spot. Martell seems to be the one on the outside looking in, and not Burrow.

That’s not a bad thing either. Burrow has shown in limited appearances that he can command the offense and throw the ball. He’s also capable of tucking it and running if need be and isn’t heavy-footed at all. So it’s a legitimate competition between these two or three quarterbacks. It’s obviously one of the biggest storylines in the offseason and will be something to keep an eye on over the course of spring and fall practices.

“Ohio State’s big-game inexperience at quarterback proves costly, as Stanford forces three turnovers. The Cardinal control the clock with Bryce Love and an offensive line that carries the day against Nick Bosa & Co.”

- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN

To keep with some of the March Madness craze, Adam Rittenberg did a 64-team NCAA tournament of his own - with college football teams. Keep in mind this is for the 2018 season, and not 2017. Ohio State still made it in as a one-seed, along with Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia. The Buckeyes even made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen, but were knocked off by the fourth-seeded Stanford Cardinal. The Cardinal secured an upset and advanced to the Elite Eight. As you can see above, the reasoning was simply Bryce Love being too much to handle and a lack of big-game experience for whoever would helm the Buckeyes at quarterback.

It would be nearly impossible to have a 64-team tournament in football, the grind already being as tough as it is. But it is fair to hope for a slightly expanded playoff. Whether or not that will ever come to fruition remains to be seen, but it’s been discussed plenty of times as a possibility.