Chris Holtmann has heard the doubters. He’s heard the murmurs that Ohio State is a prime pick for a first-round upset in the NCAA Tournament, that the Buckeyes are overrated and under-talented.
And he’s ready to prove people wrong.
“Listen, we’re going to have plenty of people that are going [to doubt us]. We’re an easy upset pick, I’m sure, and we’re going to have plenty of people who are going to go in that direction,” he said. “We’ve got a lot to prove. At the end of the day, hopefully we can go out and perform and play well.”
The Buckeyes, who earned a a No. 5 seed in the West Region and will play No. 12-seed South Dakota State on Thursday in Boise, Idaho., missed out on the national tournament each of the past two seasons, and were written off by many ahead of 2017-18.
But with redshirt junior Keita Bates-Diop’s resurgence, the Buckeyes earned a No. 2 seed and sit at 24-8 ahead of their first round matchup.
Bates-Diop, who missed most of last season with a stress fracture in his left shin, is averaging team highs in points (19.4 per game), rebounds (8.8 per game) and blocks (1.7 per game). He was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, too.
The specter of doubt might follow the Buckeyes into late March, but it’s up to Ohio State to continue to shock pundits and fans.