For most of the non-conference schedule we have talked about a giant Mountaineer team facing off against a team that is much smaller. That comes to an end Sunday as West Virginia (ranked 22 AP poll, 10 NET) travels to Cleveland to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes (ranked 2 AP, 2 NET).
The formidable frontline of Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe will face off against a an Ohio State team that is lead by 6’ 9”, 270-pound forward Kaleb Wesson. Wesson comes in averaging 13.9 points and 9 rebounds per contest with four double-doubles this season.
Culver and Tshiebwe will have to box-out and have their motor running on high to contain Wesson and control the boards.
West Virginia is 5th in country (the highest ranked Power 5 school) in offensive rebounding at 14.91 offensive rebounds per contest. Ohio State is tied for 163rd with 10.50 offensive rebounds per contest.
While rebounding is the most important stat for the Mountaineers, offense will play a major factor. West Virginia will have their hands fully shutting down. Ohio State is 17th in the nation, shooting just over 49% from the field this season. (WVU is 172nd at 44%).
Ohio State’s guards will be a challenge for the Mountaineer’s defensively. Duane Washington comes in having hit 23 of his 46 three-point attempts on the season. DJ Carton averages 11 points per game and CJ Walker is the player maker at almost four assists per game.
Date: Sunday, December 29
Tip-off Time: Noon ET
Where: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Cleveland, Ohio
Tickets: A limited number of tickets are still available via SeatGeek.com
TV: Fox Sports 1
Streaming Video: Fox Sports 1 app
Radio: WZST Variety 101 (100.9 FM in Morgantown) or the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG (Radio Affiliates)
Streaming Audio: Locate the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG on TuneIn Radio (or the TuneIn Radio app for smartphones)
Satellite Radio: WVU XM 375, Ohio State XM 195
Where are they from? Columbus, Ohio
Series History: Ohio State leads series 9-7
Last Time: January 23, 2010 (21) West Virginia 71, (11) Ohio State 65
2019-20 Record: 11-1, Last game 71-65 win over (6) Kentucky
Head Coach: Chris Holtmann (55-25 OSU, 169-110 overall)
Key Players: F Kaleb Wesson, G Duane Washington
KEYS TO THE GAME:
West Virginia has to do a better job in two areas to beat Ohio State.
The have to take care of the ball against an experienced backcourt and keep turnovers to a minimum. Ohio State is a defensive minded team and the Mountaineers have to be ready for the pressure from an experienced backcourt. They have to turn it over less than 14 times, which is their abysmal season average.
The Mountaineers also have to shoot it better from he charity stripe. WVU is always going to get to the line because of their size. To beat the good teams they have to make the easy ones.
HOW AFRAID SHOULD WE BE (ON A SCALE OF 1-10)
10. Ohio State is the well-deserved number 2 team in the country.
If West Virginia rebounds with energy and takes care of the basketball they have a good chance to win this game.
Prediction: West Virginia 65, Ohio State 60