3. Feed off the atmosphere
This may be a neutral site matchup, but it's hard not to imagine the Ohio State contingent being out in full force at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland. Buckeye fans have watched their team with a renewed spirit after the disaster that was the 2022-23 campaign, and now get an opportunity to see them show off in the final weekend of the year.
For Ohio State, the hope is that this means they come out swinging and play with intensity from the opening tip. That hasn't seemed to be a problem for the Buckeyes so far this season, but this time of year can be a strange period on the college basketball calendar, particularly with Big Ten so close. It's important this team doesn't get caught looking ahead and allow the Mountaineers to hang around deep into the second half.
Both teams should feel well-rested after a nice break over the holidays - West Virginia has been off since December 23rd after beating Toledo, while the Buckeyes have been off since their win over New Orleans on December 21st. You would think that will mean there will be plenty of energy on the court in this one, but whether that's accompanied by some rust remains to be seen.
The opportunity to head into the meat of their Big Ten schedule at 11-2 with several quality wins is an exciting one for the Buckeyes, but it's important they don't get caught overlooking the Mountaineers. Despite how difficult of a year it has been for West Virginia, perhaps the neutral site matchup could be the springboard they need for better times ahead in 2024. Either way, there's still plenty of reason to tune in for some of the final non-conference action of the 2023-24 season.