Ohio State Basketball: Buckeyes need Keita Bates-Diop refreshed

COLUMBUS, OH - FEBRUARY 10: Keita Bates-Diop
COLUMBUS, OH - FEBRUARY 10: Keita Bates-Diop /

Keita Bates-Diop is the clear frontrunner for Big Ten Player of the Year but he’s been a step slow down the stretch.

The Big Ten regular season is over and for the first time since 2015 it appears the Ohio State basketball team is likely headed to the NCAA Tournament. March Madness, which often times acts as a stage for college’s elite players, gives the Buckeyes a chance to do some damage. After all, they have Keita Bates-Diop.

However, over the last two weeks Bates-Diop hasn’t looked like the player we’ve watched most of the season. He’s averaging just 14.2 points and shooting just 34.7-percent in the last 4 games.

While he did score 24 points against Indiana on Friday, it was the first time since February 4th where he scored more than 20 in a game.

Ohio State, as a team, just looks better when Bates-Diop plays well. Consider the blowout of No. 2 Michigan State; Bates-Diop scored 32 points on 12-of-21 shooting with 7 rebounds in the 80-64 victory.

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This is not to discount some of the other things Bates-Diop does for the Buckeyes. His rebounding and defense are still consistent, grabbing 8.9 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 1 steal per game this season. Plus, his +4.9 defensive box plus/minus is incredibly impressive.

More or less, Bates-Diop needs to get going with some sort of offensive boost. His versatility on offense boosts his teammates, who otherwise play a very average brand of basketball on that end of the court.

This week is a great place for the star forward to find some consistency. The Buckeyes have already seen every team they’ll potentially play in the Big Ten Tournament; Bates-Diop knows what they might do to try to stop his attack.

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As the postseason tournaments get underway, Ohio State has the chance to do something special. However, without their superstar playing well, it will be significantly harder to finish the season in a special way.