Preview: Ohio State vs. Notre Dame

By Corey Carpenter on December 5, 2008 at 7:00 am
Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State
4-0, 0-0 Big Ten
Roster | Schedule

4:00 PM ET - ESPNU
Lucas Oil Field
Indianapolis, IN
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#7 Notre Dame
6-1, 0-0 Big East
Roster | Schedule

Ohio State travels to Indianapolis to play Notre Dame on a "neutral court" as part of The Hartford Hall of Fame Classic, at Lucas Oil Stadium, new home to the Colts.

The undercard has Indiana taking on Gonzaga at 1:30, so any Hoosier fans left in the house are unlikely to cheer for their B10 brethren, unless they hate ND as much as we do.

These will be the first two hoops games held at this new facility, which opened in August, but has already been awarded the Final Four in 2010 and Super Bowl in 2012. There will be about 40,000 seats available for the game and if for some reason you get the itch to go, tickets are starting at a cool $125, but some nose bleed $15 cheapies can be found.

Obviously the Buckeyes are riding high after their 73-68 comeback victory Tuesday over #22 Miami. Notre Dame is one of the most veteran teams in the nation, starting 4 seniors and a junior, but OSU may have caught a break with the Irish's top player, Luke Harangody possibly out with pneumonia.

2 Jeremie Simmons 7.8 1.5 2.5 G 2 Tory Jackson 12.6 4.4 6.3
33 Jon Diebler 12.8 2.5 1.8 G 23 Kyle McAlarney 20.7 2.4 3.9
23 David Lighty 7.8 4.5 1.5 F 42 Ryan Ayers 13.6 3.3 1.4
21 Evan Turner 13.8 7.3 3.0 F 33 Zach Hillesland 6.6 7.0 3.3
52 Dallas Lauderdale 7.8 4.8 0.00 C 40 Luke Zeller 7.9 5.7 0.9


Notre Dame is already battle tested this young season, making the trip to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational, where they took home second place by beating Indiana (88-50), Texas (81-80) and losing to UNC (102-87). They won their other three games by an average of 31 points and are scoring 87.1 points a game, ninth best in the country. This is simply a good team, who plays smart, shoots well and may be the best team OSU faces all season.

As mentioned, reigning Big East POY Harangody should be out sick, but they still have one of the best shooters in college hoops, Kyle McAlarney, who has made 39 of 76 three pointers attempted this year. He made 10 of 18 against UNC and 26 over his last three games. OSU will have to extend their zone pressure to the locker room, to help cover McAlarney's range.

The Bucks will also have to be watchful of Ryan Ayers, Randy's son and Tory Jackson. Ayers went for 35 in their last game, nailing 9 of 14 bombs and has hit 20 of 43 on the season. Jackson is their junior point guard who has played since he first walked on campus, but will not look to shoot the three as much, preferring the drive and dish.

Buckeye Breakdown:

At the beginning of the week, I didn't expect a victory in either game, but after that second half performance on Tuesday, I now believe anything is possible. The key to this game is coming out and carrying over the defensive intensity, extending the zone to almost half court and pressuring the ball. I don't know how much full court will be used, as the Irish have great ball handlers.

Ohio State is giving up only 47.3 points a game, good for second in the nation, while ranking fourth in defensive FG's at 43 percent. I think they can defend the threeball against ND, but rebounding has me worried. OSU does a great job at forcing teams to take hurried shots as the clock runs down, but they still give up too many second chance points. Miami's front line combined for 38 boards, including 15 on the offensive glass.

Another aspect that is worrisome is free throw shooting. OSU is shooting only 69% from the line this year, including 14 of 24 Tuesday. I think they need to be aggressive driving to the hoop again, in order to get the Irish in foul trouble and give the Bucks a chance at some allegedly easy points.

Expect Thad to use a short bench again, with the Buckeyes off until next Saturday after this one. Buford should see some time in the first half, but don't be surprised to see Lighty, Turner and Diebler play 35+ minutes. Simmons will probably see the majority of time at the point, but Crater could be invaluable on defense and that alone may get him some extra minutes.

I still don't know what to expect of Swatterdale and Mullens playing at the same time. ND starts three players above 6'7", but I think Thad is a bit leery of foul trouble on the inside and we probably won't see them together.


  • Ohio State is 124-208 all-time against ranked teams.
  • For all of you doubters, Thad Matta is now 211-66 in his 9th season.
  • The Buckeyes have attempted as many three pointers, 83, as free throws this year.