Ohio State returns to shooty hoops action today in Uncasville, CT, where the Buckeyes (1-0) will face the Rhode Island Rams (0-2) of the Atlantic 10 in the College Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off. Let’s face it, you won’t be watching this game live because it starts at 5 p.m. and is only being “televised” on ESPN3. The football Buckeyes will still be playing in Madison at that time. Sunday’s game against either Washington or Seton Hall is on ESPN2 at 4:30 p.m. The Buckeyes have never faced the Rams before, but Thad Matta faced Rhode Island thrice while coaching Xavier, winning all three meetings. Rhode Island is 4-10 against the B1G, including a 20-point loss at Nebrasketball last November.
The Rams are off to a pretty poor start to the season, dropping their home opener to Norfolk State, 67-55, and their second game 69-50 at Virginia Tech. Rhode Island went just 7-24 a year ago, including 4-12 in the A-10, and did not see the postseason. Dan Hurley takes over as head coach this year, after posting a 38-22 record (.633) in two seasons at Wagner. His 25 wins in 2011-12 were a Wagner school record. Hurley’s more famous brother Bobby is associate head coach.
Rhode Island’s starting lineup is led by a trio of seniors: guard Andre Malone (#12) and forwards Nikola Malesevic (#23) and Ryan Brooks (#23). Joining the seniors as starters are junior guard Xavier Munford (#5) and sophomore guard Mike Powell (#1). The team’s three-guard offense utilizes Malone as a de facto three, while Brooks at 6-8 and Malesevic at 6-7 make up an undersized front court.
Malesevic is the returning leading scorer, averaging 11 points a year ago, but despite his size he only averaged three rebounds a year ago. He has increased that to 6.5 rips per contest so far this year. The big Serbian scored 26 points in the opener against Norfolk State, but only six (1/7 shooting) at Virginia Tech. Malone was good for 9.3 points per game last year and is right at 10 so far in 2012-13. Munford transferred in from Iowa Western College, where he averaged 16.6 points to lead something called the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference. He scored 24 in the loss to the Hokies, but was a horrible 1/9 from outside the arc.
Only four players have seen any action from a bench that has scored a total of 12 points through two contests: sophomore guard T.J. Buchanan (#13), freshman forward Jordan Hare (#4), senior guard/forward Alwayne Bigby (#0), and freshman forward Mike Aaman (#34). Hare, out of Sagnaw, MI, is the tallest Ram at 6-10, but has only four points, no rebounds and one block in 17 minutes this season. Aaman is averaging 17 minutes this season, but the bench really hasn’t been much of a factor so far.
Ohio State wins if…Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft foul out in the first five minutes and the rest of the team shoots less than 33% from the field and gets out-rebounded. From what I’ve seen of Rhode Island so far, I expect them to be far less likely to upset Ohio State than Albany was.
Rhode Island wins if…the Mayans were right.
Notes: The Buckeyes are 62-23 in school history against the Atlantic 10…Rhode Island is 12-88 all-time against ranked opponents and has lost 19 straight against such competition…Thomas needs 84 points to reach the 1,000-point mark. I wouldn’t expect him to get it today or tomorrow.
Here’s the chat window for both today’s shooty hoops game and also the football game against Wisconsin. I guess we’re multi-tasking today.