Image Credit: Ohio Men's Basketball Twitter
Between Kentucky's matchups against Duke to start the season and Notre Dame may seem like a bunch of mid majors that UK should handle easily. But do not sleep on the Ohio Bobcats who have a legitimate shot to pull off an upset. Ohio has won each of their first 3 games, and while they haven't played against huge names, they have won every game by double digits and put up many impressive individual performances.
Ohio lost their superstar point guard Jason Preston to last year's NBA draft, but Mark Sears has filled that hole through the first few games. He leads his team with both 19.3 points and 3.3 assists per game, while having tremendous shooting splits of 64.7% from the field and 75% from behind the three point line. Sears was named MAC Player of the Week from the first week of the season.
Frontcourt starters Jason Carter and Ben Vander Plas each average over 15 points and 8 rebounds per game, and can both also effectively space out the court by knocking down 3's. The Bobcats will consistently run a 4 out offense, and sometimes even a 5 out where all 5 players on the court will be set up behind the three point line. Carter is also an effective defender, leading the team with both 1.7 steals and 2.0 blocks per game.
Last game against, Mount St Mary's, we allowed the opposition to shoot 21 free throws. Luckily, they only made 13 of them, a 61.9% clip. Ohio, however, has made 83.3% of their free throws, ranking them as the 13th best free throw shooting team in the country. Allowing over 20 free throw attempts again would be tough to overcome on the scoreboard.
We can expect a very high scoring game, as Kentucky and Ohio average 86.3 and 81.3 points per game, respectively. Both teams have a point guard who likes to push the ball and a bunch of shooters who aren't afraid to pull it from three. Ohio has averaged 66.7 shot attempts per game, 47% of which have been three pointers.
While Ohio is not the flashiest of opponents, they make for what should be a very entertaining and competitive out of conference matchup for Kentucky.