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No. 5 Ohio State has to go big in order to beat No. 4 Gonzaga

Also, the OSU wrestling team maintains its team lead moving into the NCAA semifinals.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-South Dakota State vs Ohio State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

“If the Buckeyes try to go small against the Bulldogs, it’s likely they get pushed around like they did when Gonzaga handed Ohio State a 27-point loss back in November. The Buckeyes are a different team now, but Gonzaga’s advantage in physicality remains the same.”

-Bill Landis,

Following Ohio State’s 81-73 victory over No. 12 South Dakota State in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament yesterday, head coach Chris Holtmann sardonically thanked all of the media members who made the No. 5 Buckeyes a trendy upset pick on the tournament’s first day.

Holtmann made it clear that the Buckeyes had used their perceived weakness as extra motivation heading into their first appearance in the Big Dance since 2015. However, going into the team’s opening round game, that wasn’t the only plan that Holtmann and his staff had in place.

Against the Jackrabbits, true-freshman Kaleb Wesson played only seven minutes and went scoreless, despite the big man averaging 10.5 points in nearly 21 minutes of action per game. Holtmann had talked openly heading into the contest that they would have to go small to beat their hyper-aggressive opponents. However, despite the fact that their Second Round foes, the No. 4 Gonzaga Bulldogs, made the third most field goals in the country this year, the Buckeyes will have to have a big game from their only true big man, if they want to slow down the Zags and advance to their first Sweet 16 since 2013.

The Bulldogs blew out the Buckeyes back in late November, 86-59, in what was the younger Wesson’s first collegiate start. Much has changed for both teams since then, but OSU will need to rely on Wesson down low to counteract Gonzaga’s pair of big men, Jonathan Williams and Killian Tillie.

Sophomore Micah Potter did not play in the teams’ first matchup, as his ankle injury led to Wesson’s first start. However, when called upon to play more than a handful of minutes, the Canal Winchester grad has shown the occasional offensive burst, which would go a long way on Saturday.

The other player who will be valuable down low is Keita Bates-Diop. Despite having a team-high 24 points against SDSU, the 6’7 forward did most of his damage outside, connecting on four three-point attempts. The Jackrabbits sold out to prevent the Big Ten Player of the Year from getting into the paint to create short-range opportunities.

For the Buckeyes to have a chance to avenge their worst loss of the season, they will need to find a way to be competitive down low, meaning it will be all hands on deck.

“The Buckeyes extended their lead over defending champion Penn State to 80 1/2-67 during the day session Friday at Quicken Loans Arena. Six Buckeyes will compete in semifinal matches Friday night.”

-The Associated Press via Fox Sports

After the two-session first day of the NCAA Wrestling Tournament, Ohio State held the lead in the team race with seven grapplers still alive. However, on Friday in the 197-pound weight class, OSU’s top-seeded Kollin Moore was pinned in just 1:30 by unseeded Kyle Conel from Kent State.

Despite the shocking loss for Moore, OSU still has six competitors moving onto Friday night’s semifinals; Nathan Tomasello (125 lbs.), Luke Pletcher (133), Joey McKenna (141), Micah Jordan (157), Myles Martin (184) and Kyle Snyder (285). Ohio State won the national title in 2015, and Big Ten rival Penn State has won every other year since 2011. Iowa’s won three times, and Minnesota won once to complete an 11-year stranglehold that the B1G has had on the national championship belt.

The Nittany Lions currently trail OSU 80.5 to 67 going into tonight’s evening session, with Michigan in third (59.5), and Iowa in fourth (53.5). The team and individual champions will be crowned on Saturday evening from Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.

“No. 17/18 Ohio State battled back from an early deficit to claim a 5-1 win over CSUN Wednesday afternoon at Matador Diamond. The Buckeyes improve to 17-2 overall with their fourth straight victory while the Matadors drop to 10-18.”

-Ohio State Athletics

With all of the basketball and wrestling going on, it’s no surprise that it’s been tough to keep up with the Buckeye Olympic sport teams. So, let us run through a few big stories and give the full weekend schedule rundown.

The No. 17 OSU softball team upped their season record to 17-2 earlier in the week with three wins in California. They will continue their West Coast swing this weekend in Fullerton, Calif. as part of the Easton Invitational, where they will face Grand Canyon, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, and the No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners.

The Buckeyes will then return to the Midwest to open up conference play on Friday, Mar. 23 on the road against Indiana. And, as the season progresses, the team is currently scheduled for six games on the Big Ten Network. So, set your DVRs accordingly.

Sticking with the diamond sports, the OSU baseball team claimed a midweek sweep against UNC-Wilmington. The pair of road wins moves their record to 11-6 on the season, and sophomore Jack Vance picked up his first collegiate win.

After a 4-2 Spring Break trip, OSU has now ended their 17-game road swing to start the season and as of this publication, are currently hosting Cal State Northridge in their season home-opener.

Finally, en garde! Earlier this week, the OSU fencing team had 12 Buckeyes selected to the NCAA championships by the Men’s and Women’s Fencing Committee. A total of 144 fencers were selected to participate in the championships, which will be held at Penn State next week from Mar. 22-25.

All Ohio State Teams’ Weekend Schedule

Team Match-up When
Team Match-up When
Men's Track & Field @ UCF Invite (Orlando, FL) Friday, All Day
Women's Track & Field @ UCF Invite (Orlando, FL) Friday, All Day
Women's Golf @ Clover Cup (Mesa, AZ) Friday, All Day
Women's Swimming NCAA Day 3 Swimming Trials Friday, All Day
Wrestling NCAA Championships (Session III) Friday, 11 am
Women's Hockey Frozen Four (vs. Clarkson) Friday, 5 pm
Baseball vs. CSUN Friday, 6 pm
Men's Volleyball @ Penn State Friday, 7 pm
Wrestling NCAA Championships (Session IV) Friday, 8 pm
Softball @ Cal State Fullerton Friday, 11 pm
Men's Track & Field @ UCF Invite (Orlando, FL) Saturday, All Day
Women's Track & Field @ UCF Invite (Orlando, FL) Saturday, All Day
Women's Golf @ Clover Cup (Mesa, AZ) Saturday, All Day
Women's Swimming NCAA Day 4 Swimming Trials Saturday, All Day
Wrestling NCAA Championships (Session V) Saturday, 11 am
Men's Lacrosse @ Michigan Saturday, Noon
Women's Basketball NCAA Tournament (vs. GW) Saturday, 1:30 pm
Women's Gymnastics vs. Illinois, Nebraska, Maryland, MSU Saturday, 2 pm
Pistol National Collegiate Pistol Championships Saturday, TBA
Men's Lacrosse @ Denver Saturday, 3 pm
Baseball vs. CSUN Saturday, 3:05 pm
Men's Volleyball @ Saint Francis (PA) Saturday, 7 pm
Men's Basketball NCAA Tournament (vs. Gonzaga) Saturday, 7:45 pm
Men's Hockey NCAA Championship (vs. Notre Dame) Saturday, 8 pm
Wrestling NCAA Championships (Session VI) Saturday, 8 pm
Softball @ Cal State Fullerton (vs. CSUN) Saturday, 9 pm
Men's Golf @ Linger Longer Invitational (Greensboro, GA) Sunday, All Day
Women's Golf @ Clover Cup (Mesa, AZ) Sunday, All Day
Softball @ Cal State Fullerton (vs. Oklahoma) Sunday, 1 pm
Baseball vs. CSUN Sunday, 1:05 pm
Pistol National Collegiate Pistol Championships Sunday, TBA
Women's Hockey Frozen Four (vs. Clarkson) Sunday, TBA