BOISE, Idaho (AP) — No. 5 Ohio State (24-8) vs. No. 12 South Dakota State (28-6).
First Round, West Region, Thursday 4 p.m. EDT.
BOTTOM LINE: The Buckeyes were one of college basketball’s biggest surprises this season, finishing second in the Big Ten and reaching the NCAA Tournament in their first season under coach Chris Holtmann despite being picked 11th in the preseason poll. Ohio State’s opening game won’t be easy; The Jackrabbits have won 11 straight, have one of the nation’s best big men in Mike Daum and at least one 12 seed seems to knock off a 5 every year.
BATES-DIOP: In a league full of talented players, Ohio State ended up with the Big Ten player of the year. A year after being limited to nine games due to injury, Keita Bates-Diop had a dominating junior season, finishing second in the conference in scoring at 19.4 points and third with 8.8 rebounds per game. The Jackrabbits will have their hands full.
DOMINATING DAUM: The Jackrabbits have a dominating player of their own in Daum. The 6-9 junior is a three-time Summit League Tournament MVP and earned his second straight conference player of the year this season after averaging 23.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Daum joined Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and Saint Mary’s Jock Landale as the only Division I players to average a double-double.
KEEP AN EYE ON: South Dakota State freshman David Jenkins Jr. Jenkins is the Jackrabbits’ second-leading scorer at 16.1 points per game and twice scored 31, including a game against Colorado while hitting seven 3-pointers.
DID YOU KNOW?: Holtmann has been named the coach of the year in three different conferences: the Big South with Gardner-Webb in 2013, Big East with Butler in 2017 and this year in the Big Ten with the Buckeyes.
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