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You’re Nuts: What is Ohio State men’s basketball’s most important game in January?

Of Ohio State’s next three games, two are on the road and the third is at home against the No. 1 team in the country.

Alabama A&M v Ohio State Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The Bucketheads Connor Lemons and Justin Golba are back for another week and another iteration of the “You’re Nuts” series, where they debate a topic related to Ohio State men’s basketball or college basketball at large.

As always, a quick reminder to check out the latest episode of “Bucketheads,” as well as last week’s “You’re Nuts” to catch up on what we debated last time out.

Last week, we talked about which former Chris Holtmann player would best fit on the current team. Connor said Malaki Branham, and Justin said Kieta Bates-Diop. The results favored Bates-Diop, as Justin got 60 percent of the votes.

Here are the updated standings after 81 weeks.

After 81 weeks:

Justin- 35
Connor- 33
Other- 9

(There have been four ties)

This week, we are doing a little January preview. Let’s get into it.

This week’s question: What is Ohio State’s most important game in January?

Connor: Jan. 15 at Rutgers

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ohio State stole a win from Rutgers in Columbus on Dec. 8, as Tanner Holden’s game-winning shot at the buzzer should not have counted, per the Big Ten conference the very next day. It was a slow, physical game that ended up only reaching the 60s, with the Buckeyes coming out on top 67-66 in the end.

Rutgers outplayed Ohio State in most facets of that game save for rebounds, and the Buckeyes had multiple chances to take the lead or win the game in the closing seconds prior to the Holden shot and failed to do so. Neither Steve Pikiell nor his players (that I saw) complained about the non-call at the end or blamed the loss solely on that call, but the fan base sure did after the game.

Some in the fanbase went so far as to request the game be ruled a “no contest” by the NCAA when reviewing NCAA Tournament resumes come March. After the B1G put out the statement saying Holden shouldn’t have been able to touch the ball on the final possession, some Rutgers fans asked “that’s nice, but what about the loss?” Now that there’s been time for Rutgers players and coaching staff to review that tape and realize they got jobbed, they are no doubt waiting for an opportunity to make things right and really lay a pounding on the Buckeyes at the RAC on the 15th.

Rutgers is 8-1 this season at home, and over the past several years has had one of the best — if not the best — home-court advantages in the Big Ten. The RAC (now known as Jersey Mike’s Arena) is a small venue that holds 8,000 angry New Jerseyans. It’s a hot, loud, tin can of an arena that goes up high on each side and traps the sound inside. Rutgers has picked up the nickname “The Ranked Reaper” in recent years based on their reputation for knocking off highly ranked teams at home.

Ohio State won’t be highly ranked in two weeks, but they could take a 4-1 or 5-0 record in Big Ten play into that game if the cards fall right, with a very winnable game against Nebraska right after. For all intents and purposes, winning this game on the road is a huge stepping stone for an Ohio State team looking to win its first Big Ten title in 11 years.

Plus, Ohio State only has a 39.5% chance to win the game at Rutgers according to ESPN’s basketball power index, compared to a 65.2% chance to beat No. 1 Purdue at home next week. Simply put, the Rutgers game is a bigger challenge.

Justin: Jan. 5 vs. Purdue

Davidson v Purdue Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

I genuinely am not sure if I have ever held the lead in this series, so this is a good feeling to have. Plus, I like my chances in this one.

It is always a big deal when Purdue and Matt Painter come to town because of how good they always are, but this one has a little more juice to it since Purdue has moved their way all the way to No. 1 in the country. Now, the Boilermakers come to Columbus.

The only Purdue game before the 5th is Rutgers at home, so they will likely still be undefeated. Even if they lose that game, they will still be No. 1 in the country because that game is on Monday and a new AP Poll won’t have been released yet.

The Boilers proved they were legit after beating Duke and Gonzaga handedly in back-to-back games in November, and they shot up to No. 5 in the AP Poll from No. 24.

Purdue is led by junior big man Zach Edey, who is averaging 22.6 points and 13.9 rebounds per game. Freshman guards Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith are averaging 12.8 and 9.3 points per game, respectively. Sophomore Caleb Furst is averaging 7.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

Purdue is incredibly deep and has some great playmakers to complement Edey, who would be the National Player of the Year if the season ended today. Ohio State has had some success under Chris Holtmann in Columbus against No. 1-ranked teams, beating Michigan State and Duke in recent years. They will have a tall task (literally) on the fifth to see if they can do it for a third time.

And I cannot wait.


What is Ohio State men’s basketball’s most important game in January?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Jan. 15 at Rutgers (Connor)
    (13 votes)
  • 58%
    Jan. 5 vs Purdue (Justin)
    (28 votes)
  • 14%
    One of the other 7 games
    (7 votes)
48 votes total Vote Now