Men's Basketball

Friday Shootaround — Ohio State vs Penn State BTT Preview

Ohio State Basketball Buckeyes


The No. 13 (2-seed) Ohio State Buckeyes (24-7, 15-3) take on the 7-seed Penn State Nittany Lions (20-12, 9-9) Friday evening in the third round of the Big Ten Tournament in Madison Square Garden. Tip is scheduled for 6:30 pm.

The Buckeyes haven’t played in a week, last taking the court at Indiana in a victory last Friday. Penn State, meanwhile, defeated Northwestern 65-57 Thursday night in order to advance to play Ohio State.

Opening Tip
Who: No. 13 Ohio State (24-7, 15-3) at Penn State (20-12, 9-9)

What: Men’s Basketball

Where: New York City, New York — Madison Square Garden (20,789)

When: Friday, 6:30 pm (BTN)

Why: Because revenge. REVENGE! (Seriously this time.)

Line: OSU -4.5

Ohio State

Three Point Territory

[He’s Gonna Need a Bigger Shelf] Chris Holtmann, head coach of the Buckeyes, was named the league’s coach of the year in his first season in Columbus (coaches, media). He has earned top honors in each of three conferences in which he has coached during his seven-year career. He was the 2013 Big South COY at Gardner-Webb and the Big East COY in 2017 while leading the Butler Bulldogs. Holtmann led the Buckeyes to the most wins under a first-year Ohio State coach and to the highest finish in the Big Ten regular season (2nd) of any previous Ohio State coach in his first season in Columbus.

Ohio State’s Big Ten Coaches of the Year
1983 Eldon Miller
1991 Randy Ayers
1992 Randy Ayers
1999 Jim O’Brien
2001 Jim O’Brien
2006 Thad Matta
2007 Thad Matta
2010 Thad Matta
2018 Chris Holtmann

[Number Two is Best] The No. 2 seed in the 2018 Big Ten Tournament, the Buckeyes are 26-13 all-time in BTT play since the event began in 1998. Ohio State has won 23 of its last 32 league tournament games, including 15 of the last 20. By seed, Ohio State is 11-2 as No. 1, 3-0 as No. 2, 2-1 as No. 3, 4-3 as No. 5, 2-2 as No. 6, 1-1 as No. 7, 3-1 as No. 8, 0-1 as No. 9 and 0-2 as No. 11. Ohio State has entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed five times (2000, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011). Ohio State has four titles (2007, 2010, 2011, 2013) and eight title game appearances (2003, 2006, 2009, 2012). The Buckeyes, 12-5 in BTT openers, have been seeded higher in 23 BTT games all-time and are 20-3 in those games. As the lower seed, the Buckeyes are 6-10 all-time. Seven of the Buckeyes’ opening games in the last 13 years have been decided by six or fewer points, all Ohio State wins.

[A Budding Rivalry] Ohio State leads the all-time series with Penn State 34-16. The Buckeyes are 17-5 in Columbus and 13-9 in State College. The teams have met six time on neutral courts with the Buckeyes winning four. Ranked Ohio State teams are 18-6 against Penn State. The Nittany Lions won both meetings in 2018. The No. 13 Buckeyes fell 82-79 Jan. 25 in Columbus and then 79-56 as the No. 8 team in State College Feb. 15. Seniors Jae’Sean Tate and Kam Williams along with junior Keita Bates-Diop have the most experience among the current Buckeyes with seven games played against the Nittany Lions by Williams and six each by Tate and Bates-Diop. Tate averages 12.0 points and 5.8 boards in the series. He has made 31-46 field goals (.674) in 27.8 minutes per game vs. Penn State. Williams contributes 4.9 points. Bates-Diop averages 13.0 points and 4.7 rebounds. Junior C.J. Jackson averages 9.0 points while freshman Kaleb Wesson adds 8.5 points and 4.0 rebounds. Ohio State is 4-1 against Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament. The last win was a 79-75 win March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis. Bates-Diop had 14 points in that game while Kam Williams added five.

Penn State

What You Should Know

+ Now that the regular season is in the books, three statistical category champions — for conference games only — are owned by the Nittany Lions:

Tony Carr……..125…46…..66…362…..20.1
Field Goal Percentage…..FG….FGA….Pct.
Mike Watkins……………..91…..130…. .700
Steals ……………GP..No… Avg.
Josh Reaves……14…28….2.0

Penn State as a team stands at the top of the overall steals category (237). Individually, headed into the Tournament, Carr leads in scoring (19.6), Watkins in field goal percentage (68.5), Reaves in steals (63, 2.4 spg), and senior guard Shep Garner is tied for most made 3-point field goals (88).

+ Four Nittany Lion individuals were recognized Feb. 26 as the Big Ten Conference office announced All-Big Ten end-of-season honors on the Big Ten Network.

All-Big Ten
Tony Carr 6-5 So. G

All-Defensive Team
Josh Reaves 6-4 Jr. G
Mike Watkins 6-9 RSo. F

Honorable Mention
Lamar Stevens 6-8 So. F
Mike Watkins 6-9 RSo. F

Penn State had three players earn All-Big Ten recognition for the first time since 2008-09, when Talor Battle (first-team), Jamelle Cornley (second-team) and Stanley Pringle (honorablemention) were selected. Carr is the seventh Nittany Lion to earn firstteam All-Big Ten honors (eight selections). He joins Talor Battle, in 2008-09, as the only sophomore to be named to the first team. Reaves and Watkins inclusion on the Big Ten AllDefensive Team gave Penn State two selections for the first time ever.

+ Guard Tony Carr became the first Penn State men’s basketball sophomore to reach the 1,000-point mark (62 games, 16.3 ppg, 2016-17 & 2017-18). Carr scored his 15th point vs. Nebraska on a free throw at the 10:57 mark of the second half.

+ Penn State men’s basketball has played at Madison Square Garden 21 times, including 17 times at the current building. The Nittany Lions are 11-6 in MSG IV with their last win in the “Mecca” coming vs. St. John’s, 92-76, in the Holiday Festival on Dec. 18, 2016.

+ Eleven victories have come in 2017-18, when opponents have been held to fewer than 60 points by the defensive-minded Nittany Lions. When keeping its opponents below 70 points, Penn State is 25-1 over the last two seasons.

+ Penn State added another win to its in 2017-18 record, now 13-0, when holding an opponent with a field goal percentage under 40 percent as Ohio State was 21-54 (38.9%). The Nittany Lions are 68-18 in the coach Patrick Chambers’ era when the statistic holds true.


This is the game that the Buckeyes wanted, and now they have to figure out what they have been unable to figure out in their previous two matchups. Starting Penn State forward Mike Watkins is unlikely to play due to a knee injury, so that’s 12 points and 9 rebounds per game that will need to be found somewhere else. Ohio State has had a week off, while Penn State will have had about 22 hours off. The Buckeyes will be fresher, but will there be any rust? Chris Holtmann and his staff will have some tweaks, but it will still come down to hitting shots. If the Buckeyes can get this into a more up-and-down affair, perhaps they can wear the Nittany Lions down. Let’s face it, Ohio State is due here. They are fresher and angrier. Penn State, however, is playing for an NCAA Tournament invitation, while the Buckeyes are already in. Based on the previous two games, there is no reason to pick Ohio State here, but I’m going to side with OSU’s desire to simply put an end to such a bizarre skid.

Ohio State 73, Penn State 66


4 Responses

  1. Glad Tate, Williams, Diop leaving. Get new blood in. Maybe Kaleb Wesson and Jackson should. I’m not impressed with them

  2. Holtmann and team choked. Beat three times by ok team

  3. New coach is not good at designing clutch plays. This was not the first time. Terrible terrible terrible. PSU is the better team and they should be going before OSU.

  4. Perfect situation if the Buckeyes embrace the fact that after finishing 2nd in regular season, you get the distinct feeling none of the pundits believe in this team. It’s already ” whoever wins the TTUN vs MSU will win it all. Defense is the key to get the easier buckets. Defense wins championship.

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