Keita Bates-Diop will decide Ohio State’s collective tournament fate

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

KBD has been the driving force for the Ohio State basketball team all season. He will either lead the Buckeyes to a tournament run or it won’t happen.

The fun of March Madness is back in Columbus for the first time in two seasons and Keita Bates-Diop has the chance to keep the party rolling for the next few weeks. His performance will be a big factor in how far the Ohio State basketball team will advance in the NCAA tournament.

Superstar talent often decides the victors of NCAA Tournament games. Some may be a superstar for 24 hours (see RJ Hunter of Georgia State) or for an NBA career (see Anthony Davis of Kentucky). The superstar is almost always a team’s premier player, which not every team owns.

Thankfully for Chris Holtmann’s team, they have Big Ten Player of the Year Keita Bates-Diop.

The numbers do a lot of the talking for the star forward; 19.4 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and a crisp 48.4-percent shooting clip from the field. However, it was Bates-Diop’s impressive play against Penn State which showed some March Madness poise.

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When Ohio State found itself paired with Penn State in the Big Ten tournament, the Buckeyes found a bad hand. In their only postseason game, their kryptonite handed them a 69-68 loss in Madison Square Garden. Despite the loss, Keita Bates-Diop played well, which is a big deal.

In regular season Buckeyes losses this season, Bates-Diop averaged 17.4 points. However, he played with a higher level of intensity than normal in the Penn State loss, scoring 25 points. Bates-Diop was the lone Buckeye capable of elbowing through the Penn State mental vice grip.

With the exception of Penn State, Ohio State did an excellent job of beating the teams it was supposed to beat this season, but teams tune up their play in March.

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If Keita Bates-Diop doesn’t play like a superstar, it’s hard to imagine any sweeping Buckeyes’ success in the NCAA Tournament. Hopefully his play in the Big Ten tournament reflects a red-hot streak of basketball.