We reached out to Edward Sutelan from The Lantern to get insider information on the 13-4 Buckeyes. Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
Based on the Top 25 rankings, there are a lot of middle-of-the-pack Big Ten teams fighting for positioning after Michigan State and Purdue. Where does Ohio State fit in among other teams?
Ohio State is probably in that second tier below Michigan State and Purdue, alongside teams like Maryland and Michigan. Assuming Ohio State doesn't blow it down the stretch like last season, the Buckeyes, Terps and Wolverines are probably a step above the likes of the Nittany Lions right now. This Ohio State team feels different this season, but even if at some point it starts to fall back to Earth.
The Buckeyes are riding a three-game winning streak overall, and they're a perfect 4-0 against Big Ten adversaries. What's been the biggest difference for Ohio State in conference play?
Last season, if Ohio State allowed an opponent to go on a run, the team would become deflated and just allow it to go on seemingly for the rest of the game. This season, the players don't let that dictate the game and are able to bounce back. Also, it helps when they have someone like Keita Bates-Diop.
On that note: Keita Bates-Diop has been huge for the Buckeyes this season, especially in the win over the Spartans. He's scoring a Big Ten-best 20.0 points per game, and he's third in the conference with 8.8 rebounds per game. What sets him apart from other players?
His wingspan and his versatility. He is not a 7-footer, but he has a 7-foot-1 wingspan and has become such a strong interior presence because of it. While he's not explosive from deep, teams can't just leave him wide open beyond the arc like with other big men. He's also quick enough that if he finds himself in a one-on-one matchup, he's usually able to exploit it with that speed and size combination.
Obviously the biggest surprise of the season for the Buckeyes was Ohio State's massive victory over Michigan State. What were the major factors in pulling off the upset?
Everything was going the Buckeyes' way for much of the game, and I just kept waiting for the tables to turn. That didn't happen. The Spartans did not shoot very well from three, and they were unable to get Nick Ward going at all. Ohio State just didn't miss often inside the arc and played to its strengths more than it has in the past. The Buckeyes sometimes try to make too many shots from three, but on Sunday, they really focused on scoring inside the arc and only taking advantage of wide-open chances.
Fill in the blank: Ohio State wins if…
…it wins the turnover battle. The Buckeyes have steadily improved this season in turnovers, but when they lose, it's because they get sloppy with the ball and opponents make them pay for it. On the flip side, if Ohio State wins the turnover battle, while tallying plenty of steals and holding onto the ball, Ohio State should be able to capitalize on its possessions against a Maryland defense that has struggled at times this season.
Maryland wins if…
…it can keep Ohio State off the boards and prevent the Buckeyes from getting the ball to their big men. Ohio State is not a great three-point shooting team — even though Chris Holtmann has guys like Kam Williams, C.J. Jackson and Bates-Diop, who are capable of converting from deep, it's not how the team will win ball games. But the Buckeyes are great at rebounding, almost always outscoring their opponents in the paint. So if the Terps can be more physical near the basket, and keep the ball away from guys like Bates-Diop and Kaleb Wesson, they should be able to shut down the strength of the Ohio State offense.