Preview: Ohio State vs. Louisiana-Monroe

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Buckeyes look to maintain their status among the nation's unbeaten on Friday as the upset-minded ULM Warhawks enter Columbus.

By the Numbers:

Ohio State Team Louisiana-Monroe
12-0 Record 3-4
#3 (AP, Coaches) Rankings Unranked
9 RPI 157
8 BPI 139
2 KenPom 223
5 Sagarin 163

Dec. 27, 2013 - Value City Arena - Columbus, OH
7 PM ET - Big Ten Network

Skinny:

Louisiana-Monroe enters Columbus fresh off an 83-61 loss to a pretty good Louisiana Tech squad on Sunday. LA Tech jumped out to an 19-5 and never looked back, leading by at least 20 throughout the second half behind its impressive guard play. The Warhawks have only played seven games this season, most notably playing tough games in a season-opening loss at Kansas and a close finish at LSU two weeks ago.

Despite a couple of admirable appearances on the big stage this season, on paper ULM is a below average team. Worse yet, their weaknesses mostly fall on the offensive side of the ball. Overall they are a poor shooting team in all facets, they have noticeable trouble keeping possession of the ball, and despite fielding a small team they only move at an average pace. When you add it all up and put them up against a defensively elite team like Ohio State, the matchup heavily favors the Buckeyes. The Warhawks do fare better defensively, though. They aren't an elite team on defense either, but they do a good job of cleaning the glass and minimizing second-chance opportunities, and they have a knack for producing steals.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Ohio State Pos. Louisiana-Monroe
Aaron Craft G Nick Coppola
Shannon Scott G Amos Olatayo
Lenzelle Smith Jr. G / F Jayon James
LaQuinton Ross F Tylor Ongwae
Amir Williams C Marvin Williams

ULM Players to Watch:

Tylor Ongwae- Ongwae has probably been the Warhawks' best weapon this season. A 6'7" forward from Kenya, Ongwae is a decent inside-out threat on offense, playing from the post but still a threat to take a couple threes in a given game. He's their best free throw shooter at about 81%, and defensively he is as close to an enforcer as ULM has down low, averaging a little over a block per game.

Amos Olatayo- ULM's leading scorer last year, Olatayo seems a strong candidate to name his shadow Aaron Craft for this game. Olatayo is the only true deep threat in the Warhawk starting backcourt and rebounds pretty well for his position. He has struggled against good competition this year; his three worst performances have come at the hands of ULM's best opponents to date. Born in Nigeria, Olatayo started his career at Stephen F. Austin and transferred to Navarro College before finding a home with ULM.

Marvin Williams- Though not the offensive threat of Olatayo or Ongwae, Williams has risen to the occasion in big games this year. He played his best game of the season against Kansas, netting 19 points and grabbing 6 rebounds before fouling out midway through the second half. At 6'8", Williams may struggle with Amir Williams down low if he draws that assignment.

Prediction:

Though as a team the Warhawks have fought hard against a few tough opponents this season, their weaknesses seem to play into Ohio State's strengths. Tough matchup, tough environment: Ohio State by 25.

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