Dakich is a GA at OSU so this is still relevant [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Hoops Preview: 2018-19 Ohio State Comment Count

Brian January 29th, 2019 at 1:44 PM


WHAT #5 Michigan (19-1) vs
#31 Ohio State (13-6)
WHERE Crisler Arena
Ann Arbor, MI
LINE Michigan –10, 83% to win (Kenpom)
Michigan –11.4, 89% to win (Torvik)


Michigan got back on track with a demolition of Indiana and now feels like they're really 19-1 again, so hooray for that. That demolition was built on an 0.7 points per possession performance that once again sees Michigan sit first in the country in defensive efficiency. This is a fine way to win games, especially because it results in Sam Vecenine mock drafts in which Charles Matthews is the only Wolverine mentioned.

Up next: the easiest game left on the schedule, give or take some tenths of a percentage against Rutgers in a week. Since it's This Big Ten that "easiest game left on the schedule" is against a top 50 team in Kenpom. But at least it's at home.


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Click for big.

Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
G 13 CJ Jackson Jr. 6'1, 175 76 24 104 No
Mediocre point guard is an asset from behind line (39%) and will take off-dribble threes. Horrible in midrange. 20 TO rate.
G 2 Luther Muhammad Fr. 6'3, 185 70 18 109 No
Composite #79 FR gets a ton of his own shots, takes a lot of difficult twos. Another unassisted 3 shooter. Hitting 43%.
G 44 Keyshawn Woods Fr. 6'3, 205 66 16 106 No
Wake grad transfer is good-at-bad-shots guy with ~50% other twos, hitting 45% on them. 20 A rate. Struggling from 3 (30%) but career 41% shooter in major conference.
F 11 Andre Wesson So. 6'6 220 71 16 109 No
Burlywing has significantly improved his shooting and TO rate, but that latter is still at 20. Three-level scorer now. Will play some 5.
C 24 Kaleb Wesson Sr. 6'9, 270 61 31 112 Meh
Is Nick Ward. Has some three point range though. 5.6 fouls per 40 is a problem.
G 21 Duane Washington Fr. 6'3, 190 43 15 94 Meh
Just A Shooter taking most of his shots outside the arc and hitting 34%. Too many other twos he converts at 30%.
F 5 Musa Jallow So. 6'5 200 33 14 100 No
Rangy defensive wing takes tough shots at rim. OREB threat. Just 47 shots on season.
F 0 Justin Ahrens Fr.* 6'5, 180 10 16 91 Meh
Extreme Just A Shooter except for 32 TO rate. 90% of shots from deep and 0 FTAs on season.
C 35 Jaedon LeDee Sr. 6'9 230 33 6 84 Yes
Composite #103 FR looks like solid backup C in limited minutes but stats fall apart against quality foes.

[hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]


Like Indiana, Ohio State followed up a strong non-conference schedule with a harsh Big Ten reality check. Before Saturday's win at Nebraska, Ohio State had been on a five game losing streak that included a conference-room destroying loss at Rutgers and double-digit Ls to Iowa, Maryland, and Purdue, the latter two at home.

Kenpom has them trundling home at 9-11 in the league, which would probably be enough for a bid in the best conference in America—but that's now the focus. Survive league play and get in.

That goes double thanks to some personnel issues. Micah Potter's departure on the eve of the season left Ohio State short-handed in the frontcourt, and Kyle Young's recent injury turns that into a bit of a crisis. Kaleb Wesson is fine as far as he goes but sometimes that's not too far since he's averaging 5.6 fouls per 40; he's had at least four fouls in eight of the last nine games, and in many of those his minutes have been limited as a result.

OSU clearly doesn't want to play freshman Jaedon LeDee too much. He's played 5 and 10 minutes in the two games since Young was knocked out, and in Kenpom top 100 games he's got an ORTG of 60 without a block or steal to his name. He too is a foul machine. He may be the only large man in the conference to not crush Iowa's defense: in his most extensive Big Ten outing to date he was 2/8 from the floor in 19 minutes.

OSU's only alternative is to go super small by sliding Andre Wesson, a 6'6" burlywing, to the 5 and trying to cope. This setup was actually the impetus for a 13-2 first half run against Nebraska that was the main reason OSU secured that win.

Ohio State is now a weird collection of guys who are funhouse mirror clones of each other. Amongst significant contributors everyone shoots a meaningful number of threes, has a reasonable assist rate, turns the ball over too much, and hits free throws. There is nobody who's particularly good at getting to the rim—even Kaleb Wesson gets under half his shots there and two-thirds of those makes are assisted. As a team OSU takes 29% of their shots in the midrange, which is top 100, and gets to the rim 32% of the time, which is 250th nationally. OSU is excellent once there.


[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Anyway: Kaleb Wesson is one of those 6'9", 270-280 pound centers who try to grind your face off. He'll grab a bunch of rebounds, back guys down in the post, etc. Wesson does bring a significant amount of skill to the table—he's a 33% three-point shooter and is okay away from the rim inside the arc; he's also 73% from the line on a butt-ton of attempts. Wesson draws more fouls than all but two other players nationally.

Wesson, like many of OSU's middling players, suffers once he gets to good competition. His two point shooting drops almost ten points to 47% in games against top 100 opponents. Allowing him to shoot is fine; keeping him off the line—and keeping Jon Teske in the game—is a priority.

Kaleb's brother Andre Wesson was a disaster offensively a year ago with a 92 ORTG on wafer-thin usage. This season he's improved in all facets, slashing his TO rate by ten points, and shooting 58/36 on increased usage. He's still too loose with the ball to be truly efficient but he's got some mid-range game and will get to the rim by himself some. He's one of only a couple OSU players who maintains his efficiency against good competition.



The backcourt is full of guys who are… okay. Unlike many mid-tier Big Ten teams they've got a bonafide point guard in CJ Jackson. Jackson generates most of his own shots inside the arc, sets up his teammates with a 24% assist rate, gets to the rim some, and is hitting a healthy 39% from three on the season.

But his game inside the arc is entirely dependent upon getting to the rim, which he can't do against good opponents. He loses 11 points of ORTG against top 100 opponents because his already iffy shooting inside the arc collapses to 36%. He's hitting 17% on other twos on the season. A TO rate of 20 is also a major issue.

Jackson will rise up off the dribble so Michigan will have to be wary.

Keyshawn Woods is a grad transfer from Wake Forest who's decently efficient despite a major drop in three point efficacy. Woods is a career 41% shooter on nearly 350 attempts who's hitting just 30% this year. That's despite an overall drop in his usage. Woods has great free throw shooting and is very good (45%) on other twos so that's likely to be a fluke.

Woods isn't Just A Shooter; he's got a 20 assist rate. But he isn't a great athlete and when he drives it's almost always to pull up—he doesn't get to the line much and about 80% of his twos are away from the rim.

Woods gets a lot of OSU's late-clock shots and is really efficient and twos in that situation… and hitting 21% on threes. If Michigan successfully contests Woods's shots he's likely to put up a clunker.

The final backcourt member is freshman Luther Muhammad, a low four-star who's displayed an all-around game thus far in his career. He's OSU's best three point shooter at 43% but takes only about a third of his shots from behind the arc despite being barely better inside the line (46%) and having almost half of his threes unassisted. For whatever reason he's not the unabashed gunner his stats suggest he should be.

Muhammad is another guy who doesn't get to the rim much:

Michigan will no doubt play him to force drives.

OSU's bench is mostly two guys. Freshman Duane Washington is Just A Shooter hitting 34% from deep who shoots a ton when he's on the court and never gets to the line. Musa Jallow is a 14% usage guy who's a defensive pest and rebouding threat on both ends; he's been relatively efficient this year thanks to 8/21 shooting from three but was at 25% last year and may be enjoying a low sample size distortion rather than a real and appreciable bump in his shooting ability. Five of his eight makes on the season have come in the last four games, FWIW.

Justin Ahrens—yes the brother of the Ahrens at MSU—gets about 4 MPG and 90% of his shots are from behind the line. Jaedon LeDee, discussed above, is getting scattered minutes.


OSU is another Big Ten team with a better defense than offense. That defense is built on really good two-point D (24th) and above-average TOs and rebounding. They've struggled to carry most of that over to conference play, where they're 7th and only sort of good at two-point D. OSU's lack of rim protection jumps out in league play, where their 3% block rate is dead last. They're also 13th in allowing free throws to get up.

Ohio State's offense is fairly wonky at 52nd and they're 9th in conference play; their 20 TO rate is 13th and they've been highly dependent on getting up and hitting threes. Their OREB rate is only middling but they give up a lot of transition thanks to that and a 10.4 steal rate suffered.


The first foul at center. Kaleb Wesson both fouls zestily and draws buckets of calls. Neither team has a good answer at backup C. OSU's small lineup did some work against Nebraska but isn't likely to repeat the same with a D that's really good at denying the three point line. Isaiah Livers is also a backup plan if Teske's leaving the other Wesson too open from three.

On the other hand, Michigan fans do not relish the prospect of Kaleb Wesson going up against either Austin Davis or Brandon Johns in the event of Teske foul trouble. (Though the explosive combination of Wesson's 8.1 fouls drawn per 40 and Davis's 7.9 fouls committed might provide some comic relief.)

Other twos: an opportunity for OSU and trap for Michigan. OSU takes a lot; Michigan forces even more. OSU has a lot of guys who aren't going to be efficient on drives to the basket but have good midrange game, so if OSU is hitting they could stay in contact for a long time.

Meanwhile, OSU is pretty good at forcing other twos themselves and Michigan sucks at hitting them. With Ohio State getting zilch in the way of rim protection against top 100 foes, Michigan will have to eschew the temptation of the midrange and try to yam it on people's faces.

FT shooting. OSU's been unfortunate with their free throw defense—they're 350th. Michigan's pretty bad at shooting them and will be on the line a ton.


Michigan by 10.



January 29th, 2019 at 2:01 PM ^

Should probably note that the small lineup OSU used against Nebraska with Andre at the 5 was a zone look. They got 14 out of 15 stops in that zone look and was the main reason they pulled away in the 2nd half. We'll see it tonight.

yossarians tree

January 29th, 2019 at 2:19 PM ^

Better check yourselves if you're condescending to Rutgers--they are sold out for the first time in a long time for their game against Michigan and are super jacked up. That is going to be a battle to come out of there with a win.


January 29th, 2019 at 2:47 PM ^

I'm going to this game - normally 9pm on a weeknight would be too late for me, but I'm taking a gamble by assuming that my office will be closed tomorrow.

Perkis-Size Me

January 29th, 2019 at 2:53 PM ^

I have a feeling this is going to be one of those games that is annoyingly close up until the very end. One of those games where we're consistently up by only 5-7 points, and just when it looks like we're about to make a run, they sink one or two consecutive three point shots and get right back within striking distance. 

Would love to just blow these guys out by 40 and call it a night. 

Toe Meets Leather

January 29th, 2019 at 2:54 PM ^

This game scares me a little bit.  OSU is good enough shooting where if they're hot, they're tough to keep up with.  Couple that with Teske foul trouble and its a nightmare scenario.  Granted, both of these occurring in the same game is low probability, but its a little scary nonetheless.


January 29th, 2019 at 3:30 PM ^

There is a grad transfer listed as a freshman, and you describe a freshman composite who is listed as a SR. 

Also, Ohio State went zone against Nebraska - something Michigan has struggled with that could play a huge factor in the game. Could help keep them out of foul trouble as well as force Michigan to shoot well to stay in front. Could see them mix it up to keep Michigan on their heels. 


January 29th, 2019 at 3:41 PM ^

I actually think it would do Michigan some good to see a little zone.  They have been in a little bit of a shooting funk over the last few weeks and I think a different look could do them some good.  I completely understand why the OSU coaches would think that zoning Michigan is a good idea but my guess is that it will backfire if they do.  You have to move the ball well but a zone will concede some open looks.  Michigan outside shooters are not getting many open looks right now and I think would welcome some breathing room.


January 29th, 2019 at 3:30 PM ^

OSU doesn’t scare me atall. If K Wesson gets in foul trouble early this could be a rout. I think J Poole will struggle again tonight with Muhammad guarding him, but Z and Teske will shred Jackson and Wesson on PnR. Iggy should get a favorable matchup as well. I’ll say 77-55 good guys.


January 29th, 2019 at 6:22 PM ^

Not sure I see the purpose of a post like this unless it's to make weak, oft-repeated fun of one of our players. I'm sure you're super-distinguished in your own field, but to me playing for the University of Michigan suggests a level of accomplishment and devotion I'm not gonna take weak potshots at. Of course, Trip McNeely is just about that level of numbnutz, so. . . user name checks out.  

Trip McNeely

January 29th, 2019 at 9:40 PM ^

“Though the explosive combination of Wesson's 8.1 fouls drawn per 40 and Davis's 7.9 fouls committed might provide some comic relief.”

That was the reason for my post. I realize now I should have  referenced this so it wouldn’t seem as if I was making fun of a kid that works hard and is a valued member of the team. 


January 29th, 2019 at 5:51 PM ^

So listening to one of the talking head radio shows this afternoon, Dan Dakich was the guest.  He's calling tonight's game, so he was talking about it.  He mentioned that he's good friends with Urban Meyer, and that he'd have to get in a couple of pro-OSU football comments just to "endear myself to the local crowd".

So be ready to hear some crap about football...  He also said that his son (who's a GA at OSU) said the team stayed positive and upbeat during the 5 game losing streak, so they're still a threat.  His words - don't crucify me!!  Personally, I don't see the threat.