Ohio State squares off with UNC at Madison Square Garden

Featured image: Jay LaPrete, AP Photo
Image Credit: Jay LaPrete, AP Photo

The Ohio State basketball team moved to 7-2 after a controversial win over Rutgers last week. After an 8-day break, the Buckeyes are set to play last year’s National Champion runner-up, North Carolina. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 pm ET on CBS live from Madison Square Garden.

Buckeye Preview:

The Ohio State basketball team began conference play with a wild victory over Rutgers last Thursday. A Tanner Holden buzzer beating 3-pointer was the difference. However, this win has not been without controversy, as the Big Ten ruled the shot shouldn’t have counted due to Holden being out of bounds prior to receiving the pass. Nevertheless, the Buckeyes were on the positive end of a botched call for once.

The Buckeyes were without transfer guard, Isaac Likekele, who was away from the team due to personal reasons. This allowed for Brice Sensabaugh to make his first start. The freshmen put together a solid performance alongside his freshman counterpart, Bruce Thornton. Sensabaugh scored 13 points to go along with 2 steals and a block. Thornton really filled up the stat sheet, adding 10 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.

Yet again, Zed Key also had himself a stellar night for the Buckeyes. He was able to grab 14 rebounds to go along with his 22 points, tallying another double-double. However, it was not any of these three top scorers that would ultimately win the game. It was Wright State transfer, Tanner Holden, who had attempted just 2 shots and had 0 points, that would sink the game winner. This win was enough to elevate the Buckeyes to No. 23 in the AP poll.

A Look at the Tar Heels:

The North Carolina Tar Heels have had a less than expected start to their season. Sitting at just 7-4 and unranked, the previous AP No. 1 team, has lost 4 of its last 7 contests. However, 2 of those were to No. 10 Indiana and a 4 OT heartbreaker to No. 18 Alabama.

The projected lineup:

Caleb Love (G)

RJ Davis (G)

Leaky Black (F)

Pete Nance (F)

Armando Bacot (F)

Four of the five Tar Heel starters are averaging double figures in points. Love leads the way with 18 PPG with Bacot and Davis just behind him at 16.4 and 15.2 PPG respectively. This team is obviously a lot more talented and dangerous than their record shows.

This team has the ability to score at an elite level and the potential to contend for a national title. Their success against the Buckeyes likely rides on the shoulders of their guard play and ability to utilize size, with three of their starters standing at 6’9” or greater.


The Buckeyes starting lineup should be the same:

Brice Sensabaugh (G)

Sean McNeil (G)

Bruce Thornton (G)

Justice Sueing (G)

Zed Key (F)

Eugene Brown III will miss this game, as he has yet to play this season due to concussion protocol. Isaac Likekele remains out indefinitely as well.

The last time these two teams squared off, the result was an Ohio State victory in Chapel Hill 74-49. However, I don’t foresee that as the vibe of today’s contest. The Buckeyes have yet to play a single game in which they were “out of it” or “outmatched”, finding a way to compete game to game. I think this should be very intimidating for a North Carolina group that hasn’t really got rolling this season. If the Buckeyes can continue to attack the glass and play stingy defense I really like their chances. UNC is a 2.5 point favorite, but I’m riding with Holtmann and his squad.

Final: 77-74, Ohio State