RANKINGS: Butler (#55 KenPom) | Ohio State (#70 KenPom)
RECORDS: Butler (4-2) | Ohio State (5-1)
DATE & TIME: Sunday, Nov. 26 – Approx. 3 p.m. ET
TV CHANNEL: ESPN2
WATCH ONLINE: WatchESPN
College basketball fans may be surprised to learn that Butler and Ohio State will face each other in the final round of PK80 games. Butler fans, however, have been aware of this potential matchup since the PK80 brackets were revealed.
Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was the head coach at Butler for three years before he left suddenly this past offseason. His departure left a bad taste in the mouths of many Butler fans, especially because he was followed by three Butler assistants and the prize jewel of Butler’s 2018 recruiting class, Ohio forward Kyle Young.
Occasional angry and accusatory tweets have been sent Holtmann’s way, and he has been dubbed “Boltmann” by the Butler faithful. Despite all this, the IndyStar reported that Holtmann’s relationship with most of his former players is amicable. Of course, they would still love to beat him.
Personal rivalries aside, both teams are looking for a win to leave Portland with a 2-1 record in the Invitational. Butler lost to Texas and then edged out Portland State. Ohio State was dominated by Gonzaga, then defeated Stanford.
Both teams are still uncertain of how good they are. Ohio State is 5-1, but its most impressive win was against a suspect Stanford team that already has four losses. Butler has lost to both major programs it has played in Maryland and Texas. Something has got to give in Sunday’s matchup.
The matchup may favor Butler, since Ohio State’s two leading scorers are forwards (Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate). Butler has done a good job of neutralizing big men this year, but has struggled to defend scoring guards. If Butler can defend the Buckeyes in the paint and receive a scoring punch from Kelan Martin, Paul Jorgensen, and Nate Fowler, the Bulldogs should walk away with a win.