Sixth-ranked Virginia cruised through the first six games with plenty of new faces in key roles, but the test becomes more difficult when Ohio State pays a visit in the ACC/Big Ten on Wednesday. The Cavaliers began life without leading scorers Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill this season and Memphis transfer Austin Nichols was dismissed from the team after the second game.
“The glow or whatever from last year is gone. The potential of an All-American type player in Austin Nichols is gone,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett told the Daily Progress. “So we are who we are. If we’re going to become as good as we can, it’s going to get done together, and I’m okay with that.” The Cavaliers lead the nation in scoring defense (41.3) and field-goal percentage against (30.5) as they take on the undefeated Buckeyes, who put up 111 points in the victory over Marshall last Friday. Like Virginia, Ohio State is balanced on offense and junior Jae’Sean Tate leads the way with 14.3 points per contest while shooting 60 percent from the field. The Cavaliers went on the road to beat the Buckeyes 64-58 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge last season.
TV: 9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT OHIO STATE (6-0): Six players average in double figures scoring for the Buckeyes, who defeated Providence 72-67 in their toughest matchup – a team the Cavaliers beat 63-52 last Saturday. Junior guard Kam Williams is off to a strong start, averaging 13.7 points and draining 18-of-32 from 3-point range while senior forward Marc Loving (11.5) scored 19 against Virginia last year. Sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle chips in with 11.3 points per game and 7-0 junior center Trevor Thompson (10.0 points) leads the team in rebounds (7.5) and blocks (2.0).
ABOUT VIRGINIA (6-0): Junior guard Darius Thompson, who scored 12 against the Buckeyes last December, is the only active player averaging in double figures at 10 points per contest while shooting 56.8 percent from the field. Junior guard Marial Shayok (9.5 points) provides a spark off the bench and senior point guard London Perrantes (9.2) is the most experienced player back, but did not play against Ohio State in 2015. Guard Kyle Guy (8.5 points) and 6-9 forward Mamadi Diakite (7.2, 15-of-22 from the field) have been the most productive freshmen.
1. Ohio State F Keita Bates-Diop (ankle), averaging 10.3 points, has missed the last three games and is questionable for Wednesday.
2. Perrantes has 467 career assists and needs two to move past Harold Deane for sixth on the team’s all-time list.
3. Ohio State freshman C Micah Potter had 12 points and 12 rebounds against Marshall for his first career double-double.
PREDICTION: Virginia 66, Ohio State 60