Busting Brackets

Ohio State Basketball: 3 keys to beat West Virginia in Legends of Basketball Showcase

Emerald Coast Classic - Alabama v Ohio State
Emerald Coast Classic - Alabama v Ohio State / Johnnie Izquierdo/GettyImages
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2. Maintain the edge in the paint

Hopes of a West Virginia turnaround took a major hit earlier in the month when big man Jesse Edwards fractured his wrist in the loss to UMass, robbing the Mountaineers of their top interior presence. Edwards was in the midst of another productive season after transferring over from Syracuse, averaging 14.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest.

West Virginia's loss is Ohio State's gain in this matchup, as the absence of Edwards gives the Buckeyes a clear edge on the interior. Zed Key and Felix Okpara may not be the most imposing 1-2 punch in the Big Ten, but they've both had quality starts to the year, and Holtmann has figured out an effective rotation to keep them fresh.

Key is a real load to handle offensively, and he's improved his efficiency significantly in 2023-24. At 6'8", 230 pounds, he plays much larger than his measurements may suggest, but needs to continue working on staying out of foul trouble. Meanwhile, Okpara is a defensive specialist, blocking over two shots per game and consistently forcing opponents into contested looks.

Facing those two was going to be a challenge for WVU even with Edwards, but without him, even more of a burden falls on Quinn Slazinski and company. With Edwards sidelined and Akok Akok's status uncertain after scary collapsing on the court earlier in the year, the Mountaineers just simply don't have much height they can throw at opponents. If I'm Ohio State, this is the perfect opportunity to impose your will in the post, pound the glass, and play at their own pace on both ends.