What is Dispatches from Blogfrica? Pretty simple: I ask questions of an blogger for an opposing team; he (or she) answers. A truly revolutionary idea, no? Today: Brad from Land Grant Holy Land, SB Nation's fine blog for all things Ohio State.
1) Ohio State has a gaudy record and some very impressive stats... but they've also played a pretty buttery soft non-conference schedule, outside of a Big Ten-ACC Challenge tilt with Louisville and a neutral-court clash with North Carolina (both losses). OSU's best win is probably... Marquette? What's the feeling about OSU right now? Is there a sense that you don't really know how good they are because they've faced a lot of weak competition?
BRAD: I think this team is electric enough against bad teams that we can safely say they're going to be a good team. They've had a couple bad halves against good teams, but I think they demonstrated in the Louisville and UNC losses that they've got the talent to compete, they just get flustered and off their game when the competition and spotlight gets hotter.
2) Weak competition or not, a 59.4 eFG% is really damn impressive. What's been the secret behind Ohio State's tremendous shooting so far this season?
BRAD: More talent, most likely. OSU depended heavily on one scorer in the past few years (Deshaun, LaQuinton, etc.). Now, they've got shooters coming from everywhere, including off the bench. That extra talent means that no one player has to carry the load in any game, which lets the whole team play looser.
3) Ohio State is also doing very well defensively, particularly when it comes to forcing turnovers (26.1% of opponent's possessions, 7th best in the nation) and keeping teams off the free throw line. What's been the key to Ohio State's defensive success this year?
BRAD: I think the zone, and especially in the swarming way Ohio State plays it, contributes to defensive success. The zone is hard to prepare for, it inevitably puts teams in tough spots offensively, and is easier for players to grasp.
4) D'Angelo Russell looks like he's been every bit as good as advertised as a freshman. What are his biggest strengths? What are his most notable weaknesses?
BRAD: Russell is dynamic, he can truly do it all: shoot, drive, distribute. He's a decent defender, particularly in transition. There've been times when he's tried to take over a game when the team might have been best served by him distributing the ball more, but he's been so good so far, even that's not too much of a weakness.
5) Marc Loving and Kam Williams have also been big contributors for the Buckeyes this year. What should Iowa fans know about them?
BRAD: Loving's fantastic from beyond the arc, and he's turned into a great rebounder and defender, so he's no liability on defense anymore. Williams comes of the bench with gusto and if he's given the time to shoot, it usually goes in, and he's a pure joy to watch.
6) OK, prediction time -- who ya got?
BRAD: Ohio State, by 10.
Thanks for being a good sport, Brad, and I hope your team doesn't beat Iowa by 50 on Tuesday. You can check out the Land Grant Holy Land crew at Land Grant Holy Land. You can also follow Land Grant Holy Land on Twitter at @Landgrant33. The Iowa-Ohio State game is in Columbus, OH on Tuesday, December 30, and is scheduled to start at 12:00 pm CT, with television coverage from ESPN2.