South Dakota State Could Surprise Ohio State In West Opener

Jay Pryce

Monday, March 12, 2018 8:19 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 12, 2018 8:19 PM UTC

Ohio State is back in the NCAA Tournament after a two-year hiatus as a five-seed, opening as an 8-point favorite over Summit League champion South Dakota State. Can the Jackrabbits spring an upset in Thursday's West Region opener ?

Ohio State vs. South Dakota StateFree NCAAB Pick: South Dakota State +8Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Ohio State (24-8 SU, 15-15 ATS) is dancing for the first time since the 2014-15 season, one of four Big Ten teams (Michigan State, Purdue, and Michigan) to make the field of 68. For first-year head coach Chris Holtmann, it is his fourth trip in a row, earning invites with Butler in each of the past three seasons. He went 4-3 SU and 6-1 ATS with the Bulldogs in the NCAA Tournament, covering a 0.8 average line by 3.1 points per game.

The Buckeyes' success starts and stops with junior forward Keita Bates-Diop. The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year averages 19.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. When Bates-Diop shoots better than 37.5 percent from the floor, Ohio State is 19-4 SU and 12-9 ATS for the year. Three of the team’s losses have come in seven games when he averages less.

Pounding the paint with Bates-Diop and freshman forward Kaleb Wesson is Ohio State’s modus operandi. Execution near the rim is its strength. Its 67.4-percent success rate on shots within 3 feet ranks 23rd-best nationally. Hardly any of these are coming in transition, either. The Buckeyes play at a below-average tempo (260 out of 351 DI teams) with just 17.5 percent of attempts coming off fast breaks (20.6 is average).

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It's so great to be dancing again.

Good luck in the NCAA tourney, @OhioStateHoops!

— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) March 11, 2018

South Dakota State (28-6 SU, 19-9 ATS) rolled over the Summit League, going 13-1 SU (9-5 ATS) in the regular season. Its average margin of victory in conference play equaled 9.9 points.

The Jackrabbits live up to their name, forcing teams into fast-paced, high-scoring games. They averaged 82.6 points per contest versus Summit League foes on 45.6-percent shooting. Junior forward Mike Daum is the go-to, averaging a double-double for the year (23.8 ppg, 10.4 rpg). For a quick team, the offense isn’t transition-oriented (only 17.9 percent on fast-break attempts). Rather, a rapid-fire motion set focuses on two or three quick passes and a shot, rather than sitting on possessions. Most attempts (43.0 percent) come from long range. The team ranks 12th in the country with a 40.3-percent 3-point success rate.

The Buckeyes are 8-point favorites on the college basketball odds board, but don’t be shocked if South Dakota threatens an outright upset here. The Summit League, known for its bevy of fast-paced teams, is proving a thorn in the B1G side in recent years, going 7-16 SU and 14-9 ATS since the NCAA sped up the shot clock in the 2015-16 season. Twenty of these matchups presented B1G squads home-court advantage, too. In the eight years prior to this, the league won one of 65 meetings overall.

Summit offenses are surpassing their projected team total by 4.8 points per game in this span. The Jackrabbits current unit, ranking 41st in the nation in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings, is arguably the best of the bunch. They can compete. Expect Ohio State to dictate play, causing both teams to fall just shy of scoring projections. The finish comes down to the wire, however. With your NCAAB picks, take the points with the Jackrabbits and be on alert for an all-too-common 12-5 upset, which has seen the higher seed win 35.6 percent of the time since 1985.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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