Greetings Hoops Fans! This is Dave Horning for Hoops on Lane Fan Podcast with a preview of the upcoming Ohio State Buckeyes basketball game against the Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina to be played on Saturday, December 23rd at 1:30pm in New Orleans as part of the CBS Sports Classic. The game will be played at the Smoothie King Center, the venue that is home for the NBA New Orleans Pelicans. Tip-Off is 1:30pm Columbus Time. UCLA will play against Kentucky in the second game. The game will be televised on CBS and broadcast locally on radio on The Fan 97.1 FM.

The North Carolina Tar Heels are the defending National Champions, having defeated the Gonzaga Bulldogs earlier this year on April 3rd in the Championship game – Final Score: North Carolina 71 Gonzaga 65.

However, North Carolina lost 3 starters from that Championship team and have a completely new look this year.

Before their game on Wednesday against the Terriers of Wofford College, the Tar Heels were listed as Number 1 on the Team Ranking list of all 351 Division 1 Men’s Basketball teams and Number 5 in the AP Poll.

However, in a stunning upset, the Wofford Terriers defeated the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill by the score of 79 to 75. North Carolina led by 7 points with 4 minutes left in the first half, but went on a scoreless streak for the rest of the half that allowed Wofford to take the half-time lead 34-33. And, in the first 5 minutes of the second half, it was Wofford that came out with the desire to win this game, taking a 49 to 40 lead. The led the entire second half and pulled away at the end. Wofford has a big time scoring threat in their 6-4 Junior Shooting Guard Fletcher Magee, and he did light it up scoring 27 points. But even more impressive was the play of their 6-8 Junior Forward Cameron Jackson who scored 18 points and had 9 rebounds. He was just too physically strong for North Carolina’s Luke Maye. At a critical point towards the end of the game, he just ripped the ball away from a North Carolina player inside the paint.

So, it looks like the Buckeyes will NOT have the element of surprise in their favor this Saturday. North Carolina will come out smoking to show their deserve to still be considered a Top Ten Team. They only shot 7 of 25 for 28% on 3-point shots, so that is where they will try to improve, but desire alone can’t make that happen.

North Carolina defeated Michigan handily in the ACC-Big Ten Classic, winning by the score of 86 to 71 at home in Chapel Hill, shooting 55% from the field. However, in late November in the finals of the PK80 Classic, they lost to Michigan State by the score of 45 to 63, their first loss of the season. In that game against MSU, the Tar Heels shot 1 of 18 from behind the 3-point arc. So, which team will show up against the Buckeyes?

The Starting lineup for the Tar Heels will likely be:
Number 32 6-7 Junior Forward Luke Maye
Number 15 6-9 Freshman Forward Garrison Brooks
Number 1 6-6 Senior Forward Theo Pinson
Number 24 6-3 Junior Guard Kenny Williams, and
Number 2 6-foot Senior Guard Joel Berry II

Pinson and Berry were starters on last year’s National Championship team.

The big gun for the Tar Heels in Luke May, averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds per game. Will Kaleb Wesson be able to disrupt his game?

North Carolina has been coached by Roy Williams since 2003. He has won 3 National Championships and is a member of both basketball halls of fame – the Naismith and the Collegiate.

Ohio State is unique in that it is playing both teams this year that played in last year’s Championship final. Earlier this season, Ohio State lost to Gonzaga by the score of 59 to 86.

But Ohio State has improved a lot since that game.

For the Buckeyes, the Starting Lineup will likely be known only to Coach Holtmann. My guess is that he will start the same lineup as last game so that Mussa Jallow will start in order to have more physicality early in the game. Here’s my guess:

Number 34 – 6-9 Freshman Center Kaleb Wesson
Number 33 – 6-7 Junior Power Forward Keita Bates Diop
Number 2 – 6-5 Freshman Guard Mussa Jallow
Number 3 – 6-1 Junior Shooting Guard or Point Guard CJ Jackson, and
Number 1 – 6-4 Senior Jae’Sean Tate, Point Guard or Small Forward

Ohio State is coached by Chris Holtmann in his first year at Ohio State.

Will Ohio State be able to handle the defensive pressure on our Point Guard positon, a position where we have had a lot of turnovers ? Will Keita Bates Diop light it up like Wofford’s Flether Magee? Will Kaleb Wesson physically dominate like Cameron Jackson? Be sure to tune in Saturday to find out.

Coming up next, a look at the current Tar Heel player from Central Ohio.

On October 10, 2016, Pickerington Central Power Forward, Sterling Manley committed to the University of North Carolina. At 6-11 and 240 pounds, he is the biggest man on the Tar Heels roster. Ohio State did not heavily recruit Manley because of the verbal commitment they had received from Westerville South’s Kaleb Wesson. The two players met earlier this year, on January 3, 2017 in a high school game played at Westerville South where Pickerington Central won by a score of 62 to 57. Dispatch sports reporter Adam Jardy reported that “Ohio State signee Kaleb Wesson … outplays counterpart Sterling Manley” saying the “Westerville South may have lost the war, but Kaleb Wesson won the battle”.

Look for these two players to resume their acquaintance in New Orleans.

This is Dave Horning for Hoops on Lane.com Fan Podcast. Goodbye and Go Bucks!