The Ohio State Buckeyes were recently ranked No. 13 in the AP Poll, this season they are a top-25 ranked team for the first time in three years.
First year Head Coach Chris Holtmann has started his coaching career with the Buckeyes by leading the men’s team to a 9-0 Big Ten start. The Buckeyes have had a surprisingly good start at 18-4, including a blowout win against then #1 ranked Michigan State. After a tight win against Nebraska in Columbus, Ohio State secured an eight game win streak that has them playing as competitively as they have in recent memory. The expectations were not great for the Buckeyes entering the season because of the coaching change and limited amount of talent some thought were on the roster. Holtmann, who reached the Sweet Sixteen with Butler in 2017 seems to be able to connect with this roster in a way that former Head Coach Thad Matta had not been able to do for a little while before his departure. Some thought it would take a while for Holtmann to acclimate himself in Columbus and get the roster to buy in, but Ohio State has seemed to respond well under their new leader.
One player who is having a career year is Keita Bates-Diop, the redshirt junior forward from Normal, Illinois. Bates-Diop is having a bounce back season for the Buckeyes after only playing in nine games last season. Bates-Diop has started every game this season for the scarlet and grey while averaging 19.7ppg and 8.9rpg with a 50 percent field goal percentage, all career highs. He has become the Buckeyes go to player and playmaker during this impressive start to the season along with the high motor of senior Jae’Sean Tate.
The Buckeyes played their best game of the season in Columbus against the rival Spartans. Bates-Diop scored a career high 32 points along with key contributions from guard C.J Jackson and Tate. The Buckeyes showed grit and teamwork in that huge win. That type of focus and intensity can benefit them a lot when they are to play better teams further down the line.
The Buckeyes have a good shot at winning the conference but have a tough test ahead against #3 ranked Purdue on Feb. 7.
Together with new coach Chris Holtmann, this years Buckeyes look to keep defying the odds all the way into the NCAA Tournament, which they haven’t reached since 2015.