March Madness Round 64 Preview
South Dakota State vs. Ohio State
Ohio State owns the higher seed and the more recognizable name, but South Dakota State has more recent NCAA Tournament experience on its ledger entering their first-round West Regional matchup Thursday. That’s the challenge awaiting the fifth-seeded Buckeyes as they take on the 12th-seeded Jackrabbits in Boise, Idaho.
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. The Buckeyes, who earned an at-large bid out of the Big Ten, are making their 28th Big Dance appearance overall but their first since 2015 under former coach Thad Matta. 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.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (28-6): The Jackrabbits, guided by second-year coach T.J. Otzelberger, won their 11th straight game with a 97-87 victory over South Dakota in the Summit League championship game, and also notched wins over the Big Ten’s Iowa (80-72) and the SEC’s Ole Miss (99-97) during non-conference play. South Dakota State does boast a national-headline name in 6-9 junior forward Mike Daum who paced the Summit League in scoring (23.8 points per game) and rebounding (10.4) while connecting on a team-most 91 pointers on 216 attempts (42.1 percent). 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 percent as a team from 3-point range (12th nationally).
ABOUT OHIO STATE (24-8): The Buckeyes have had a stronger-than-expected season under new coach Chris Holtmann, finishing in a tie for second in the Big Ten at 15-3 before getting upended by Penn State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. That 69-68 loss March 2 in New York was the third defeat in five games for Ohio State, which boasts four double-digit scorers, led by 6-7 junior forward Keita Bates-Diop, the Big Ten’s Player of the Year who averages 19.4 points and 8.8 rebounds. Forward Jae’Sean 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 outing.
1. The Ohio State roster only features seven combined games of NCAA Tournament experience and two combined starts, both by Tate, but Holtmann guided Butler to the Big Dance in each of his three seasons as the Bulldogs’ coach.
2. 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.
3. Daum has posted a double-double in five straight games and 12 of his last 13 contests and has averaged 16.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in his previous two NCAA tourney games.