After back-to-back conference wins at home, Maryland travels to Columbus to take on Ohio State Friday. The No. 19-ranked Terps are hoping to keep a six-game winning streak alive against an Ohio State team that has lost three in a row.
While both teams are in opposite situations, both are looking for a win to stay afloat in the deep Big Ten conference. To find out more about the Buckeyes, we talked to Wyatt Crosher of The Lantern. His answers have been lightly edited for clarity.
After starting the season 12-1, Ohio State has lost three games in a row. What has caused this slump from the Buckeyes, and how do you see them coming out of it?
Ohio State’s three-game losing streak is a combination of season-long problems coming to a head and teams having specific advantages to completely overpower the team.
The Michigan State loss was an acceptable one, and Ohio State looked like a team that could compete with the Spartans most of the way. The Iowa, and especially, the Rutgers losses showed just how young Ohio State still is. The Scarlet Knights had size the Buckeyes couldn’t deal with, and Iowa’s zone defense forced some ugly offensive possessions.
But the high fouls and turnovers are not a new trend for this Ohio State team. Instead, those things just happened to finally hurt them enough to create some losses. To come out of it, the Buckeyes will need to find a viable second option to Kaleb Wesson, or Wesson will need to stay out of foul trouble. There is no real top guy next to him, and he is far too valuable to continue to leave games early with fouls.
Following Michigan and Michigan State, there’s a battle in the Big Ten to see where teams will fall into place. Where do you see Ohio State among the teams in the middle of the pack?
When looking at this recent stretch, it’s easy to say it could fall to the nine-to-ten range. But Chris Holtmann is simply too good of a head coach for me to think that’s where the Buckeyes will end up.
I think the Maryland game will say a lot about the team. The Terrapins come in hot, and Ohio State is ice cold. If this is a fourth-straight loss and it looks ugly, maybe the Buckeyes do land there. I think the game will be close, and I think Ohio State’s defense is too strong to make it anything else.
If I were to pick a position Ohio State ends, I’d say around sixth or seventh. This is a young team that should get better, and Holtmann finds a way to win games he often shouldn’t.
Maryland is among the top 15 in the nation in rebounding thanks to the dynamic duo of Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith. How do you see Ohio State’s bigs matching up with the Terps’ frontcourt?
Rebounding has been a struggle for Ohio State, and if Kaleb Wesson is ever off the court, it’s hard to tell who is going to find a way to stop that duo. I think Ohio State will come in and hope to make plays in the post on the offensive end, mostly through Wesson, but with how Maryland has built its resume so far, I’m not sure how well that will work.
Like Fernando, Kaleb Wesson does a little bit of everything for his team. How much does the team’s success hinge on his performance, and who else on the Buckeyes should we keep an eye on?
Kaleb Wesson has been pretty much everything for Ohio State to this point. The leading point scorer and rebounder by a wide margin, Wesson has been the guy time and time again, and it has been impressive to watch.
Other guys to watch for the Buckeyes changes by the game, but I find myself enjoying Luther Muhammad’s game the most. As a true freshman, he clearly has places to work on, but he plays defense with a passion, and often finds a way to make a big shot when the team needs it.
C.J. Jackson has stretches where he looks like he can be that No. 2 option, and Kyle Young is shooting 81 percent in Big Ten play thus far, so if he starts getting the ball more, he can be dangerous as well.
Finish this sentence. Ohio State wins if…
The team can limit the turnovers and shoot the three somewhat consistently. The Buckeyes had 21 turnovers against the Hawkeyes, and they won’t win many games doing that.
Ohio State also is very inconsistent from three, but when it is hitting, the team has a whole new layer to its game that can be hard to deal with. I believe in Holtmann’s ability to make a defensive scheme to limit Maryland offensively, but this offense has left plenty to be desired, and will be the key in stopping such a hot team.
Maryland wins if…
They get Kaleb Wesson out of the game early. That can mean literally, through causing fouls on the man who left the Iowa game in the first couple minutes, but it could also mean as a game plan.
If Maryland limits Wesson’s scoring and forces other players to step up, the Buckeyes have not proven to handle that well. Again, if three pointers are falling, this could prove to be less important, but Wesson is such a clear primary scorer, the Terrapins just need to slow him down to have a very high chance of winning.