South Dakota State (28-6) vs Ohio State (24-8)
When: Thursday, March 15th 2018
Where: Taco Bell Arena, Boise, ID
Time: 4:00 ET | TV: TNT
Opening Odds: Ohio State -8.5/148.5
The upstart South Dakota State Jackrabbits are making a habit of appearing in the NCAA Tournament, and will get a chance at their first victory when they take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in Boise, Idaho Thursday afternoon. The Jackrabbits actually have more tournament experience than the Buckeyes, who are making their 28th appearance, but first since 2015. The Ohio State roster only features seven combined games of NCAA Tournament experience and two combined starts, both by forward Jae’Sean Tate, but coach Chris Holtmann guided Butler to the Big Dance in each of his three seasons as the Bulldogs’ coach. A No. 12 seed has beaten a No. 5 seed in nine of the last 10 NCAA Tournaments, and 12s have won 11 of the last 24 such first-round matchups overall. South Dakota State, meanwhile, captured an automatic NCAA bid by winning the Summit League championship and also finished first in the conference with a 13-1 league record during the regular season. It will be the third straight NCAA Tournament appearance for the Jackrabbits and fifth in the last seven seasons for the program which moved up to the Division I level in 2005. South Dakota State is 0-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament play after suffering first-round losses to Gonzaga (66-46) and Maryland (79-74) as a 16th and 12th seeds, respectively, the last two seasons.
The Jackrabbits won their 11th straight game with a 97-87 victory over South Dakota in the Summit League championship game, and also boast wins over the Big Ten’s Iowa (80-72) and the SEC’s Ole Miss (99-97) during non-conference play. South Dakota State is led by junior forward Mike Daum, who won the Summit League scoring title (23.8 points per game) and rebounding crown (10.4) while connecting on a team-most 91 three-pointers (42.1%). Guards David Jenkins Jr. (16.1 points) and Reed Tellinghuisen (12.1) also average double figures for South Dakota State, which ranks sixth nationally with 84.9 points per game and shoots 40.3% from 3-point range (12th nationally).
The Buckeyes surprised most experts with a strong season under new coach Holtmann, finishing in a tie for second in the Big Ten at 15-3 before getting upset by Penn State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. Three of Ohio State’s eight losses came at the hands of the Nittany Lions. The 69-68 loss March 2nd in New York was the third defeat in five games for Ohio State, which has four double-digit scorers, led by junior forward Keita Bates-Diop, the Big Ten’s Player of the Year who averages 19.4 points and 8.8 rebounds. Tate (12.5 points), guard C.J. Jackson (12.2) and freshman forward Kaleb Wesson (10.8) also average double digits for the Buckeyes, who finished fourth in the conference by averaging 75.8 points per game.
We all know about the curse of being a No. 5 seed in this tournament and the trendy pick this year is South Dakota State. I hate going with the public, but I do like the Jackrabbits in this game. Ohio State played well above expectations and I don’t think they’re much of a powerhouse. I will gladly take the points in this one and maybe lay a little on the moneyline.
Pick: South Dakota State +8
- Jackrabbits are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Jackrabbits are 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 vs. Big Ten.
- Jackrabbits are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS win.
- Jackrabbits are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games.
- Jackrabbits are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 neutral site games.
- Jackrabbits are 29-11 ATS in their last 40 games overall.
- Jackrabbits are 20-8 ATS in their last 28 games following a straight up win.
- Buckeyes are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 Thursday games.
- Buckeyes are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Buckeyes are 5-21 ATS in their last 26 neutral site games.
- Buckeyes are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Buckeyes are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 NCAA Tournament games.
- Buckeyes are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games.
- Buckeyes are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Under is 4-1 in Jackrabbits last 5 Thursday games.
- Over is 6-2 in Jackrabbits last 8 vs. Big Ten.
- Over is 41-19-1 in Jackrabbits last 61 non-conference games.
- Over is 4-0 in Buckeyes last 4 vs. Summit.
- Under is 8-1 in Buckeyes last 9 neutral site games.
- Under is 9-2 in Buckeyes last 11 non-conference games.
- Under is 6-2 in Buckeyes last 8 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Over is 9-3 in Buckeyes last 12 NCAA Tournament games.
- Over is 13-5 in Buckeyes last 18 Thursday games.
- Under is 10-4 in Buckeyes last 14 overall.