Tonight’s ACC/Big Ten Feature: Previewing Ohio State vs. Louisville

Posted by Brendan Brody and Brett Thompson on December 2nd, 2014

As the ACC and the Big Ten teams get together on the hardwood this week, the ACC and Big Ten microsites (Brendan Brody and Brett Thompson, specifically) have also decided to team up to break down some of the key questions for a few of the games. What follows is a look at tonight’s featured battle between two power programs: the Buckeyes and the Cardinals.

Brendan Brody: Louisville’s defensive numbers have been absurd this season, but Ohio State brings in eight rotation players who are currently shooting over 50 percent from the floor. Why will Louisville’s defense shut down these Buckeyes?

Brett Thompson: Despite the strong play of Louisville’s defense thus far, Rick Pitino is concerned with how well Ohio State has shot the ball on the offensive end (63.5% eFG). Look for the Cards to implement several zone looks along with their patented pressure to confuse the Buckeyes, but if Ohio State continues to knock down threes at a superb 41.8 percent clip, Louisville will be forced to man up on the shooters. How have the Buckeyes been so efficient offensively this season, and will that continue against a Louisville defense that ranks first in defensive efficiency nationally?

Shannon Scott is leading the Big Ten in assists, but will be tested by Louisville's pressure. (AP)

Shannon Scott is leading the Big Ten in assists, but he will be tested by Louisville’s pressure. (AP)

BB: It begins and ends with the play of Shannon Scott. And it’s not just the fact that he’s averaging an ungodly 10.4 assists per game, but it’s also that he’s been magnificent at getting everyone quality looks. The team is shooting such a high percentage because Scott is putting everyone in great position to make shots well within their respective comfort zones. If Scott can handle the Louisville pressure well enough to avoid turning the ball over excessively, Ohio State can make the Cardinals pay for it in the half-court. On the other end of the floor, the Buckeyes don’t really have anyone to match up with the Cardinals’ Montrezl Harrell, but the Louisville perimeter players (Chris Jones, Terry Rozier and Wayne Blackshear) have struggled shooting the ball this season. Which of these three is most likely to break out and help Harrell score?

BT: Last season it took Blackshear a few games to find his stroke from three, but when he finally did so, he caught fire. He started 4-of-10 before turning in a 4-of-5 performance against Cornell. He is the most capable player in the Louisville backcourt to shoot over long and rangy defenders, so if someone breaks out from deep tonight, it will probably be him. Speaking of perimeter shooting, freshman Buckeye D’Angelo Russell has gotten off to a magnificent start this season (18.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.8 SPG). Is there a weakness in his game that Louisville can exploit?

BB: One thing that could impact Russell this evening is the simple fact that he actually hails from Louisville. This will be a huge game for him on a personal basis as he returns to play in front of his family and friends. As a young player, this could lead to him  trying to do too much and straying from the efficiency he’s displayed so far. In the Buckeye’s win against Marquette, he forced things too much and ended up with seven turnovers on the night. He’s been outstanding, certainly, but it’s also been against generally overmatched competition. If he tries to become the conquering hero by forcing things against the Cards, Louisville will capitalize.

  • Why Louisville Will Win: They will win because they have a slight experience edge among the starters and they’re playing at home. We don’t know what Russell will do with the entire country watching, and the Cards’ top-rated defense will figure out how to cool off the Ohio State offense.
  • Why Ohio State Will Win: The Buckeyes will use a combination of Amir Williams, Anthony Lee and Trey McDonald to frustrate Harrell, and they will use their zone to make sure that Louisville takes more jumpers than they want. The Buckeyes certainly won’t shoot the ball as well as they have to this point in the young season, but they’ll do just enough to eke out a massive road win in the final seconds.
Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *