So far this season, the basketball Buckeyes have stayed within the comfortable confines of the Schott. They’ve beaten some good teams — Duke and Florida among them — but you never quite know about a team’s character until you see them on the road, playing before screaming fans in a hostile arena.
Today that will change. This afternoon the Buckeyes will travel to Kansas to play the perennial power Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse. And what a place for your to get your first taste of the road! Allen Fieldhouse is one of the most venerated venues in college basketball, with its packed in fans and their weirdly chilling “Rock-Chalk-Jayhawk” chant. The Buckeyes can expect face-painted, bare-chested KU students to yell their brains out every time Aaron Craft brings the ball upcourt.
This will be an interesting game for the Buckeyes for other reasons. The big question to be answered is whether Jared Sullinger will play and, if so, whether he will be hobbled. The Buckeyes offense is designed to exploit Sullinger’s many talents, and when he didn’t play last game the offense sputtered. If Sullinger doesn’t play — and I wouldn’t expect Coach Thad Matta to take any chances, at the outset of a long season — the other Buckeyes will have to step up.
Kansas has a very good team. They are ranked in the top 15 nationally, and their 6-2 record is deceiving because the losses have come against Kentucky and Duke. The Jayhawks have lots of size and depth and are led by stud 6-9 forward Thomas Robinson and guard Tyshawn Taylor. If the Buckeyes hope to win this game, they will have to play solid defense, force some turnovers, and — if Sullinger can’t play or is limited — get a big game from Evan Ravenel.
The tip is at 3:15 this afternoon. We’ll know a lot more about the grit and determination this Buckeye team possesses by 5:30 tonight.