The Nebraska Cornhuskers hit the road again for game three of Big Ten play. This trip takes them to Columbus for a matchup against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 25 in the AP and No. 20 in the Coaches polls this week, marking the third straight conference game against a ranked opponent.
This is just the second time in program history the Cornhuskers have started a conference season against three-straight ranked programs, the last time being their first season in the Big Ten back in 2011-12. Nebraska went 0-3 in that stretch with double-digit losses to No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 16 Michigan State, and No. 6 Ohio State. This season will feature the first ever four-straight ranked opponents as Saturday’s opponent MSU clings to its AP and Coaches ranking this week before likely (and deservedly so if it happens) dropping out in next week’s results.
As for Ohio State, this marks the 23rd meeting all-time between the two programs. The series dates back to 1936, and OSU holds an 18-4 advantage overall, and a 14-2 advantage in Big Ten play. Nebraska’s two wins in conference action are split between a 2014 win in Lincoln and a 2018 win in Columbus. The Buckeyes are riding a four game winning streak, and this game marks the 12th of 17 games in which Ohio State will be ranked when playing Nebraska in conference action.
Chris Holtmann is in his fourth-year as head coach in Columbus, and has led the Buckeyes to three-straight 20-win seasons featuring Big Ten finished of tied for second, tied for eighth, and tied for fifth in the final standings.
Nebraska Cornhuskers at No. 25/20 Ohio State Buckeyes
5:30 p.m. CST/6:30 EST
Columbus, OH - Value City Arena
TV: Big Ten Network
Play-by-play: Chris Vosters
Analyst: Stephen Bardo
Online Broadcast: Fox Sports app & foxsports.com/live
IMG College Sports Network
1400 AM in Lincoln, 590 AM in Omaha, 880 AM in Lexington
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Analyst: Jake Muhleisen
Online Radio: Available on Huskers.com, Huskers App, TuneIn.com/Huskers and TuneIn App.
SiriusXM (internet): 978
The Buckeyes currently sit at 7-2 overall, and prior to Tuesday night’s game action are tied for ninth in Big Ten standings at 1-2 in conference play. Ohio State opened conference play with a surprise seven point loss to Purdue, put away then No. 11 Rutgers by 12-points, and lost by one at Northwestern. The non-conference highlights include a five point victory at Notre Dame (89th in KenPom) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and a neutral court win by seven over UCLA (28th in KenPom).
Ohio State sits at No. 16 in KenPom, but No. 8 in adjusted offense and all the way back at No. 49 in adjusted defense. BPI rates the Buckeyes No. 22, and RPI is 26th, all as of Tuesday afternoon.
Sophomore forward E.J. Liddlell leads Ohio State with 15.3 points per game while also averaging 6.7 boards (second-best on the team). Junior guard Duane Washington Jr. is second in scoring with 14.4 points per game and also features 22 of the Buckeyes’ 59 three-pointers so far on the season.
Cal transfer, junior forward Justice Seuing (10.9ppg) and senior guard CJ Walker (10.0ppg) round out the double-digit scorers for OSU while Walker leads in assists with 4.6 per game. Kyle Young leads Ohio State on the glass with 7 per game. The Buckeyes out-rebound teams by an average 5.4 boards per game. OSU ranks sixth in the conference for turnover margin, averaging just 9.4 per game while opponents have averaged 12.1.
The Buckeyes typically feature a strong defense under Holtmann in past years, but this season the duo of Duane Washington and EJ Liddell have been turning in an impressive offensive performance. Ohio State has been averaging 76.6 points per game (70 in conference action) while holding opponents to an average 66.3 per game (68.7 in conference). Last season the Buckeyes were only averaging 72.1 points per game while giving up 67.7 in conference action. All slight improvements from last year, at least to date.
Defensively, Ohio State struggles at field goal percentage. Inside the arc, the Buckeyes are averaging 16.0 made attempts from two-point range in conference play, and the Buckeyes rank 10th overall for field goal percentage defense. Behind the three-point line, Ohio State ranks dead last on the season, allowing opponents to shoot an average of 38 percent from deep.
For Nebraska to have a shot, they will likely need to be aggressive on offense with drives to the rim. The Buckeyes struggle to keep teams off the board inside the arc, but if all the Huskers do yet again is let Teddy Allen chuck hail-mary three’s from well behind the arc, this game will be over before half-time even with the higher shooting percentage OSU gives up to opponents from three.
The win probability for Ohio State in this one was up to 84.7 percent as of Tuesday evening based on ESPN’s BPI projections and Ohio State is a 13.5 point favorite. There’s a reason they play the games, though. Go Big Red!