PROBABILITY OF… Clemson3415 You can read all of our College Football Playoff coverage here. Oklahoma comes into the playoff as the favorite with a 41 percent chance of winning the title despite being the fourth seed. That’s because the Sooners have the highest FPI rating (the metric we use to calculate win probabilities for the playoff games) in FBS football. They’re matched up against Clemson (the third-highest rated team of the four playoff teams, according to FPI), and have a 66 percent chance of beating them and advancing to the final.The other side of the bracket pits Alabama against Michigan St., which made a somewhat surprising move up to No. 3 (our model gave it a 32 percent chance of happening). But that move may not benefit the Spartans. Alabama is better than Clemson according to FPI, and Michigan St. now only has a 32 percent chance to reach the final, rather than the 42 percent chance they would have had if the Spartans faced Clemson. Alabama6834 The college football playoff committee has returned its verdict: No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Michigan St., No. 4 Oklahoma. Here’s what those final seedings mean for each team’s championship odds, according to FiveThirtyEight’s model: TEAMMAKING FINALNAT. TITLE Oklahoma66%41% Michigan St.3210
Tampa Bay Bucs cornerback Eric Wright will lose $1.706 million because of a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.Fox Sports reported several weeks ago that Wright would be suspended for using the drug Adderall.Former Buccaneers starting cornerback Aqib Talib was suspended for four games earlier this season. Talib said he took Adderall without a prescription during training camp. Talib served three games of his suspension before the Buccaneers traded him to New England Nov. 1.Wright was one of Tampa Bay’s big free-agent signings in the offseason. But he’s been hampered by an Achilles tendon injury in recent weeks and missed Sunday’s game against Atlanta. The Bucs started undrafted rookie Leonard Johnson in his place.E.J. Biggers took over when Talib was suspended and has remained in the starting lineup, but the Bucs have very little depth beyond that.Wright signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract when he joined the Bucs in March
Tiger Woods is famous for becoming the greatest golfer of the modern era, but what he isn’t known for humor. Well, not until Thursday’s game at the Presidents Cup.Apparently Woods was so funny that his partner, Matt Kuchar calls him Carlton after the character Carlton Banks – Will Smith’s nerdy cousin in ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”“I figured this guy was the perfect Carlton,” said Kuchar with Woods standing next to him.“Thank you very much,” Woods replied, with a smile.They’re so committed to the “Fresh Prince” bit that they even greeted each other–in front of cameras–doing the handshake that best friends Will and Jazz did when greeting each other on the show. Watch their rendition of it below.“I thought there was something a little extra,” Kuchar said. “Something fun to do. Baseball high-fives look like a lot of fun but look a little too complicated, so we went old-school with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — a little snap-back after you slap hands.”Kuchar went on to say:“It’s fun. I figure he’s kind of like Carlton, and we really had a good time doing it out there.”Watch how Smith and Jazz actually did the handshake in the video below.
Stephen A. Smith, perhaps the most provocative voice on ESPN, was suspended for a week from appearing on the network for comments deemed insensitive following Baltimore Raven Ray Rice’s two-game suspension for knocking his now-wife unconscious during a confrontation on an elevator on Valentine’s Day.Meanwhile, it was reported by the New York Daily News that Smith had already planned to leave the ESPN radio job he had for his own show on SiriusXM. Presumably, Smith will return to First Take and other responsibilities on ESPN next week.Smith said, among other things on the air last week: “What I’ve tried to employ [with] the female members of my family — some of who you all met and talked to and what have you — is that … let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come — or somebody else come, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know — if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you.”His comments, even though he vehemently denounced a man hitting a woman, started a deluge of outrage that eventually ESPN succumbed to with this suspension–which came after Smith made countless attempts on Twitter to explain himself and offered an on-air apology for his remarks.Smith tweeted, among other things: “But what about addressing women on how they can help prevent the obvious wrong being done upon them? In no way was I accusing women of being wrong. I was simply saying what that preventive measures always need to be addressed because there’s only but so much that can be done after the fact … once the damage is already done.”He apologized on television: “On Friday, speaking right here on ‘First Take’ on the subject of domestic violence, I made what can only amount to the most egregious error of my career,” Smith said. “My words came across that it is somehow a woman’s fault. This was not my intent. It is not what I was trying to say.”ESPN released a statement from its president, John Skipper, who said the suspension came as a result of speaking to the women employees resource group at his network: “As many of you know, there has been substantial news coverage in the past few days related to comments Stephen A. made last Friday in the wake of the NFL’s decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games following charges of assaulting his then fiancée, now wife, a few months ago.“We’ve said publicly and in this space that those remarks did not reflect our company’s point of view, or our values. They certainly don’t reflect my personal beliefs.”The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg, among others, agreed with Smith’s take, and many have considered ESPN’s suspension a sad indictment on the NFL and its perceived insensitivity toward women. To wit: Rice knocked out the woman in his life and received just a two-game suspension; Smith did not abuse anyone and received a seven-day ban.Smith, the Daily News reported, will soon leave ESPN-98.7 FM and join SXM’s Mad Dog Radio, where he will host his own show. Smith currently co-hosts a 1p.m. to 3p.m. program with Ryan Ruocco that airs in New York.
It’s a refrain almost as common as “Merry Christmas” this time of year: There are too many bowl games. While hardcore college football fans don’t mind watching, say, the Miami Beach Bowl on a Monday afternoon a full 10 days before the traditional bowlfest of New Year’s Day (guilty!), there’s also the sense that the bloated bowl season has taken away much of the meaning that used to be associated with playing in college football’s postseason.How much expansion has there been? This season will see a record 39 bowl games played, from the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl to the College Football Playoff National Championship. Compare that to 1968, when there were 11 bowls, or even 1984, when there were 18 — a total that would remain more or less static for more than a decade. But in the late 1990s (perhaps not coincidentally, when the Bowl Championship Series began), the bowl field began expanding rapidly, reaching 20 games in 1997, 25 in 2000 and 32 in 2006.In the chart below you can see the proliferation of the bowl field since 1982, the year cable television money and the departure of the Ivy League from Division I-A ushered in college football’s truly modern era:Some of the bloat is associated with an increase in the number of Division I-A (now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision, or FBS) football teams, to 128 this season from 113 in 1982. (A chunk of these new additions have come in just the past few seasons, as part of what FiveThirtyEight contributor David Goldenberg calls a “recent trend of universities starting football programs from scratch with the plan to get to Division I as soon as possible, and reap the PR and financial benefits that come with a major football program.”)But the growth of the FBS only explains a small portion of the bowl explosion. Even as a percentage of all FBS schools, almost twice as many teams will go bowling this season as did in 1996:Economically, there are pros and cons to the inflated bowl field. And these games do matter football-wise, especially to a certain subset of mid-major programs looking for exposure any way they can find it. But, as a natural byproduct of expansion, the caliber of teams in bowls has plummeted over the past three decades.Using an Elo-like estimated version of ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) pre-bowl ratings, here is the progression of the average, worst, and 25th-percentile teams in the bowl field for each season since 1982:The average rating for bowl-bound teams is barely lower now than it was in 1982, and the fact that it crested in 1996 — right before the bowl boom — suggests that there were enough good teams to support some type of expansion in the late 1990s. (Why this change took place is up for debate, though it could point to the origins of today’s ongoing trend of reduced parity between college football’s haves and have-nots.)However, the trend lines describing the dregs of the bowl field (the minimum and 25th-percentile ratings) show how much the bar for bowl entry has been lowered since that time. Bad teams occasionally made their way into bowls before 1997, but that’s now commonplace, particularly since the number of bowl entrants has grown by 39 percent since 2005.Monday’s Miami Beach Bowl thriller, between Memphis and Brigham Young, showed that less prestigious bowl games can still provide excitement for fans that bother to tune in. But it’s also fair to question whether we really need to see FPI No. 95 South Alabama and No. 97 Bowling Green (both considered to be in excess of 8 points per game worse than an average FBS team) face off in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl — as happened on Saturday. Like so much in college football, the bowls are an as yet incomplete experiment in where to find a happy medium between tradition, money-making and the role of academic institutions in the world of high-profile sports.
The only other past superstars who’ve played in a higher percentage of their teams’ total games are Karl Malone and John Stockton. (It’s fitting that a player nicknamed “The Mailman” appeared in 100 percent of potential games 10 different times in his career.) But even they had their injuries. In Malone’s case, he tweaked his right knee in his final season and missed nearly half of the regular season. (To be fair to Malone, he was eight years older than James and five seasons deeper into his career.) Meanwhile, Stockton injured his MCL in 1997, forcing him to sit out the first 18 games of that year.4Stockton was three years older than James at the time, but he was at the same point in his career — the 14th season.He’s been equally great when compared to the five other active players with the highest career win share. For all the many things LeBron James is praised for, from his ability to set up his teammates to his capacity to take over a game, his most underappreciated quality may be his most obvious: He’s always there.Since entering the league in 2003, James has never sat out for more than 15 percent of a season (regular and playoffs combined). Among players of his caliber, past and present, that’s unprecedented. Stephen Curry had ankle issues at the start of his career; both Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant experienced late-season injuries that forced them to miss the playoffs in, respectively, 2000 and 20131Duncan, however, was incredibly healthy most of the time — he still ranks No. 3 among the retired greats we looked at.; and Michael Jordan broke his foot in his sophomore season. Then there’s James. He’s never missed a playoff game, and even though he has the sixth-most regular-season minutes of all time among players at the same point in their careers (within their first 14 years in the league), the most severe injuries he’s incurred are a sore back and knee and some untimely cramps.Quantifying a player’s durability is a bit tricky because the NBA doesn’t keep track of games missed due to injury, which leaves us no way to distinguish physical issues from other reasons for missing games, such as paternity leave or regular rest. The best we can do, then, is to look at the number of games a player appeared in as a portion of the number of games they could have appeared in. The higher the percentage of possible games played, the more durable the player is.2Keep in mind that is only a rough measure, and there’s no way to adjust it for changes in the way the game is played. James has missed more games for rest than players did in the past, which deflates his durability percentage somewhat relative to theirs. On the other hand, getting that rest may have made him more able to avoid injury than those past players, which would inflate his numbers.This year, James appeared in 74 out of a possible 82 games during the regular season and has played in all 12 of the Cavaliers’ playoff games — that’s a 91 percent appearance rate. By itself, that statistic is unremarkable. But when you put it in context — James has played in at least 85 percent of his teams’ games in every season of his career — you see something special.Here’s James compared to the five inactive players with the highest career win share since 1980.3We’re only counting win shares earned after the 1980 cutoff point, which is why Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the all-time leader in win shares, is not on the list even though he played part of his career in the ’80s. Truth is, James has been even healthier than those numbers would suggest, because potential games played is a conservative estimate of durability. Some of the games James missed weren’t because he was injured, but rather because a coach decided to rest him for meaningless games at the end of a regular season. (A philosophy that Malone is happy to remind people didn’t exist in his day.)All this is even more impressive considering the bruising style of basketball James is known for. Among active players, no one has gone to the free-throw line more than James. It’s almost unbelievable that a player who plays such physical ball has stayed so healthy since, as we’ve seen in this year’s playoffs with Blake Griffin, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Isaiah Thomas, it only takes one misstep to end someone’s season.
2012-13Louisville31–6–Sweet 16 2014-15Duke425.5– 2011-12Kentucky736.3– SeasonChampionNumberWin Share 2010-11Connecticut513.4– 2017-18Villanova726.1– 2006-07Florida1033.7– 2008-09North Carolina20–17–NIT Back-to-back has become a pipe dreamHow men’s NCAA champions have fared the following season in college basketball’s one-and-done era 2011-12Kentucky21–12–NIT 2015-16Villanova32–4–2nd Round 2017-18Villanova2–0? 2005-06Florida35–5–Champion 2008-09North Carolina926.6– 2005-06Florida21.5– The NCAA Tournament’s First Four was known as the First Round until the 2015 tournament.Source: Sports-Reference.com SeasonChampionWinsLossesPostseason Source: Sports-reference.com 2013-14Connecticut20–15–NIT Villanova fans might choose to view things in a more optimistic way, instead thinking themselves as fortunate that they only lost four players, especially seeing the Wildcats of Kentucky lose an unimaginable six players after their championship in 2012 and then stumbling into the NIT a year later. Nova’s relatively tiny rotation last year — Villanova ranked 302nd in total bench usage, according to KenPom — could be a blessing in disguise as the likes of Eric Paschall and Phil Booth are still available to make the leap to the top of the college ranks and potentially beyond.Still, Villanova fans thinking of a repeat might want to curb the enthusiasm.Any team not named Duke, Kentucky or Kansas — whose recruiting prowess means a revolving door of NBA-bound super freshmen — has struggled to be relevant again immediately. If you look past these three blue bloods, Louisville is the only reigning champion to reach the Sweet 16 the year following championship in the last dozen years. It’s why the 2010 North Carolina Tar Heels couldn’t even make the NCAA Tournament after winning the whole thing a year earlier. It’s why last year’s Tar Heels were swept aside in the second round of the tournament by Texas A&M. 2010-11Connecticut20–14–2nd Round The Villanova Wildcats produced one of the most dominant seasons in NCAA history last year, going 36-4, including a complete dissection of a strong Michigan team to win the championship game. The Wildcats scorched teams on offense, ranking No. 1 in the country in offensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage, according to college basketball stats guru Ken Pomeroy. This helped them beat the Wolverines by 17 points.But the team that is defending that title — currently ranked eighth heading into Wednesday’s rematch with Michigan — is hardly recognizable eight months later, as four of coach Jay Wright’s stalwarts from a season ago are now in the NBA.The departure of Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges — a pair of juniors left over from the 2015-16 national title-winning team — has left a crater in Wright’s lineup. Along with the exits of Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman, the outgoing quartet combined for a whopping 26.1 win shares last season1Win shares represent the number of estimated wins that a player produces for their team.It’s typical for reigning national champions to lose a large chunk of their talent the following season, especially in the one-and-done era. And while the Wildcats may not have lost the most win shares of past champions, the immediate exodus of talent will have huge consequences for their prospects to repeat as champions this season. This is perhaps a long way of saying winning back-to-back titles, or even coming close, has become very difficult in college basketball — and for good reason. The Florida Gators, in 2006 and 2007, and the Duke Blue Devils, in 1991 and 1992, are the only programs in the past 45 years to repeat as NCAA men’s basketball champions, after John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins capped off seven consecutive titles. Back then, Wooden had the luxury of coaching future NBA Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar2Then Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton for three seasons, something that is largely unheard of in today’s game.3Ironically, those two weren’t allowed to play their freshmen years because of a bygone rule, skipping what likely would be the only year they would play at UCLA today. Likewise, Mike Krzyzewski was able to develop chemistry with college stars like Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, and Bobby Hurley — all of whom stayed a full four years.And when it comes to the one-and-done era, the Gators are an anomaly themselves, as Donovan managed to persuade the likes of Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer to remain in Gainesville for their junior years before winning another title and then moving to lengthy careers in the NBA.For most champions, winning a national title usually means saying goodbye to their best talent — the nation’s top freshman are forced to use college as a stopgap for a year before jumping to the NBA, and upperclassmen often ride their team’s success to test the NBA’s waters. For his part, Wright did well to keep Brunson and Bridges in Philadelphia for another two years after winning their first title, which built a bridge to that second championship.But the team that cut down the nets last year has been gutted, particularly on the offensive side. Among the top four players of each champion since 2006, when the one-and-done began, Villanova’s departed quartet leave the greatest offensive hole for a reigning champion, a hole that might be too great to overcome. 2007-08Kansas27–8–Sweet 16 2016-17North Carolina26–11–2nd Round Departing players Season after championship … 2015-16Villanova511.4– 2016-17North Carolina721.8– 2013-14Connecticut719.8– 2012-13Louisville412.3– 2009-10Duke32–5–Sweet 16 2014-15Duke25–11–Sweet 16 Villanova’s departures have left a sizable holeTotal win share of players who left NCAA championship teams the season after their championship, since the beginning of college basketball’s one-and-done era 2006-07Florida24–12–NIT 2007-08Kansas935.3– 2009-10Duke620.7– Joining senior Paschall, who’s being touted as a first-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and redshirt senior Booth, who netted 23 in his season debut last week, is the 12th best recruiting class, according to ESPN. Five-star recruit Jahvon Quinerly is considered one of the best freshman point guards in the nation, and four-star forwards Cole Swider and Brendan Slater both also have a place on the ESPN 100. Whenever this is enough for Wright’s team to make waves again in March is a question for the season ahead. However, with currently the fifth-best ranked recruiting class for next year, Wildcats fans may have another title-winning team in the not-too-distant future, maybe just not in the immediate one.CORRECTION (Nov. 14, 2018, 3:30 p.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the Florida Gators were the only team in 45 years to repeat as national champions in men’s college basketball. Duke also did, winning back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992.
Bauserman entered into the pros before playing at OSU, not for football, but as a minor league baseball player for the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s been three years since the backup quarterback walked on for the Buckeyes, and he still feels content about switching sports. “I miss the game,” Bauserman said. “But I certainly don’t miss the business.” Before he ever played at the professional or collegiate level, Bauserman was making waves in both Virginia and Florida, where he played high school ball. He made all-state for both football and baseball, and was verbally committed to OSU before choosing baseball as his destination after high school. Since Bauserman left the minor leagues and returned to his college of choice, he has moved from zero playing time to third string and finally to his current position as backup quarterback to Terrelle Pryor. His improvement is something that quarterback coach Nick Siciliano has certainly taken note of. “He’s been trying to get better consistently,” Siciliano said. “It always gets better when you’ve played two sports and you’ve been doing it so long; things get clearer for you. It’s just a case of him getting better and better at his craft.” In the past three years, Bauserman has also noticed a change in his game. Unlike other players at Ohio State, Joe Bauserman didn’t head into the college football scene right after high school. Instead, he skipped a step. “I’ve gotten better at the whole running thing,” Bauserman said. “Now I know if you get four yards, you get four yards. You don’t try running around for 15 yards wasting time.” “My overall consistency is better as well,” he said. “I’ve been making the right reads, taking what I can get. It’s the little things.” Despite not having the starting job, Bauserman continues to battle against the other quarterbacks during practice, trying to prove himself in every aspect of his game. “I feel strongly about the way I perform in practice nine times out of 10,” he said. “I just jump in and take it as it comes. I’m always coming in competing and trying to beat the next guy.” As a backup, Bauserman usually doesn’t see time until the fourth quarter of a game that has already been decided. For him, taking over for Pryor at the end of games is bittersweet. “It’s a good feeling, getting in there, but it’s hard,” Bauserman said. “You’ve been standing there on your feet for two hours, and then you have to go get warmed up.” Some players might get restless spending their time as a backup, but Bauserman is just trying to make the most of his experience at OSU both on and off the field. “It’s just another year under my belt. Any time you can get more experience, it helps you out,” he said. “Everybody’s just trying to get out of college, but I’m just trying to sit back and enjoy the time I’ve got left.”
OSU redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett. Credit: Courtesy of OSUAs Ohio State prepares for its season opener against the Navy Midshipmen on Saturday, some players are preparing for their first taste of college football.While the Buckeyes return seven starters on defense, including all four across the defensive line, OSU returns just four starters on offense.One of those returning starters, senior wide receiver Evan Spencer, said although the Buckeyes are more inexperienced, it will create opportunities for young players to step up.“The difference I would say, from this year compared to last, is obviously our depth,” Spencer said Monday. “With as many playmakers as we have on the offense and on defense — but more specifically offense — we’re going to find ways to get people the ball.”One of those players will be touching the ball every play, as redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett is set to make his first career start in place of senior quarterback Braxton Miller, who will miss the season because of a shoulder injury.Spencer said while he feels bad for Miller, he is not worried about the offense operating under Barrett.“It’s definitely a change. But I mean at the same time, all throughout camp J.T. and both (redshirt-sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones) have been getting so many reps with the ones,” Spencer said. “They’ve been throwing the ball so much all throughout camp, and really all throughout the offseason that it’s not that much of a transition for us just because that’s what we’ve been going through.”OSU co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said while Barrett might not be a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate right now, Herman is sure of the quarterback situation.“I am very confident,” Herman said Wednesday. “I think J.T. has had an excellent camp. Cardale has actually had his best week as a Buckeye this week.”Herman went on to say he thinks there are other teams in the nation that would envy having a player like Barrett or Jones under center.“I would think there are a lot of schools right now that would take our scenario over what they got,” he said.Despite Spencer and Herman’s praise for Jones, coach Urban Meyer said there isn’t a plan in place for Jones to come in Saturday and take playing time away from Barrett.Not only does the quarterback position feature a freshman starter, the Buckeye defense will likely start at least two freshmen, and others are also expected to see the field.OSU co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell said Wednesday that although the defense is young, he is excited to see how the group performs in what is, for some of them, their first taste of college football action.“We got a lot of youth, and sometimes with youth, you are not exactly sure how they act or respond at the start,” Fickell said. “We know that we want to play 19 to 20 guys.”Among that group will likely be redshirt-freshmen cornerbacks Eli Apple and Gareon Conley and highly-recruited freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan.Fickell said both Apple and Conley, who are listed as co-starters for week one, have shown they are worthy of playing time in practice, but added he is nervous about sending them out on the field Saturday.“Now you are looking at two guys who are young. We’ve seen what they can do, we love who they are, we love what they have done throughout camp. We are not sure how they will do in front of 80,000 people,” Fickell said. “That is one of those things that keeps you laying awake at night.”The young Buckeyes are scheduled to take on the Navy Midshipmen on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Kickoff is set for noon.
OSU freshman guard D’Angelo Russell (0) dribbles the ball up the floor during a game against James Madison on Nov. 28 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 73-56.Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / For The LanternAfter securing five double-digit victories at home to begin the season, the No. 14 Ohio State men’s basketball team is set to hit the road to take on a top-five opponent.OSU (5-0) will look to pass a major test against No. 5 Louisville (5-0) in Louisville, Ky., on Tuesday.For the four freshmen in OSU’s rotation, including guard D’Angelo Russell, the game will mark the first on the road in their collegiate careers.“I’m definitely looking forward to the atmosphere,” Russell said.However, senior guard Shannon Scott said he has been stressing to the younger players to not think too much of Tuesday’s challenge.“It’s another game, really. At the end of the day, somebody’s going to have a win and somebody’s going to have a loss,” Scott said. “It’s not really a special game where we have to feel like if we lose this game we can’t play no more basketball for the rest of our lives.”Despite being an away game for OSU, the game will be played at home for Russell.Russell is a Louisville native, though he played his final three years of high school basketball at Montverde Academy outside Orlando, Fla.The freshman said he has had the game circled on his calendar all year, and is looking forward to playing in his hometown.“It’s definitely a dream come true, to either play with them or play against them,” Russell said.Russell, the leading scorer for the Buckeyes this season, said Louisville offered him a scholarship, but he preferred the “vibe” he felt when he visited OSU.OSU coach Thad Matta said Russell’s hometown school did not present a large obstacle in landing the 2014 McDonald’s All-American.“I don’t honestly remember Louisville being hot and heavy after him,” he said.Russell said he has played with several players on the Cardinals’ roster, including his former Louisville Magic AAU teammate and freshman guard Quentin Snider.Louisville comes into the game ranked fifth in the country in rebounding margin at +13.6 per game, while OSU ranks 64th.Scott said avoiding that trend would be a key for the Buckeyes.“We know Louisville’s one of the best, if not the best, rebounding team in the country, so we know we’re going to have to find a way to keep them off the boards,” he said.Matta agreed with his point guard’s assessment that a major key to the game will be the battle on the glass.“I think that they do a tremendous job of getting on the glass and not only getting put-backs but keeping the ball alive, knocking them out, those types of things. And they’re big. They have a very unique team in terms of how they play,” Matta said.Louisville has four players averaging more than 11 points per game, led by forward Montrezl Harrell.Matta had high praise for the junior, who is leading the team in points and rebounds per game.“He’s special,” Matta said. “He plays at a high level, a high motor, very energetic. He’s got a lot of different ways that he scores.”The coach had additional levels of praise for Louisville coach Rick Pitino, a two-time national champion.“I view coach Pitino as one of the all-time greats in this profession,” Matta said.However, despite the respect he has for the opponent, Matta said that the unselfishness coming from his starting backcourt of Scott and Russell has given him confidence that OSU can come out of Kentucky with a victory.“I love the fact that both D’Angelo and Shannon have had great command of our offense, and in a game like tomorrow night, they’re going to have to be able to do it,” he said. “They’re going to have to make quick reads and good decisions, and I feel pretty comfortable with their ability to do that.”Russell leads the Buckeyes in scoring with 18 points per game and has added 5.4 assists per contest, while Scott leads the nation in assists with 10.4 per game.Louisville and OSU each rank in the top-10 for longest active NCAA Tournament appearance streaks, at eight and six years, respectively. The Cardinals cut down the nets in 2013 after defeating Michigan in the championship game.Regardless of the result Tuesday night, Matta said that both playing on the road for the first time and facing an opponent as strong as Louisville will give him insight into his team moving forward.“Tomorrow night, at the conclusion of the game, we’ll know a little bit more about our team and we’ll be a better team coming out of it,” he said.Tip is set for 9:30 p.m.