Previewing Ohio State

After prevailing in the Las Vegas Invitational, the top-ranked Tar Heels head to Columbus for their ACC-Big Ten Challenge matchup Wednesday with Ohio State. Tip-off at the Value City Arena is set for just after 9 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

North Carolina (5-0) vs. Ohio State (4-1)
Columbus, Ohio - Value City Arena (19,049)
9:05 p.m., ESPN (Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale)

QUOTABLES

"Playing North Carolina will be an experience for us because we need to learn to tie our offense to the defense so when the ball isn't going in the net like against Texas A&M we can generate points off of our defense." -- Thad Matta

"We liked the kid and we wanted to recruit him, and we tried to recruit him, but he decided to stay home there in Ohio. He presents tremendous matchup problems because he's a European player and he can shoot the dickens out of it. He's a legit seven feet and runs like crazy… this kid can really play. I saw him play a lot and we would have loved to have had him because he runs and shoots and rebounds." -- Roy Williams on Kosta Koufos

PREGAME NOTES

Matta The Dethroner: The Ohio State head coach will take on his third No. 1 opponent of his Ohio State coaching career when the top-ranked Tar Heels visit Columbus. The Buckeyes defeated No. 1 Illinois, 65-64, on March 6, 2005 in the regular season home finale and then again on senior night a season ago against No. 1 Wisconsin (49-48) to complete an 18-0 home season. Matta has coached and won in three games vs. No. 1-ranked opponents, taking down No. 1 St. Joseph's (87-67) in the 2004 Atlantic 10 Tournament while coaching Xavier.

Land of the Big Men: North Carolina will face its third legitimate "big" man in the past five days on Wednesday. First it was Old Dominion's 7-foot-3 center Sam Harris, and then it was BYU's 6-foot-11 Trent Plaisted. Next up? Ohio State's seven-foot, 265-pound freshman center Kosta Koufos. The Greece native was a 2007 McDonald's All-American, and currently leads the Buckeyes with 18.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. He also has 10 blocks on the season. Koufos isn't OSU's only big man, however, as the Buckeyes also feature N.C. native Othello Hunter in the starting lineup and have several reserves 6-8 or bigger coming off the bench.

Diebler's Due: As Ohio's 2007 high school Mr. Basketball, Jon Diebler has stumbled out of the gate this season, connecting on just 4-of-35 field goals, including 2-of-24 from behind the three-point line. Those stats become even more astonishing when understanding that Diebler averaged 41.2 points per game during his senior season at Upper Sandusky. He currently holds the most points scored in Ohio high school history with 3,208 points, surpassing Jimmy Jackson, Jamar Butler, Bob Huggins, Jerry Lucas and LeBron James last season. While he's struggled, starting point guard Jamar Butler has picked up the slack, shooting 51 percent from beyond the arc through the first five games.

Season to Date: Ohio State enters Wednesday night's contest with a 4-1 record. The Buckeyes have beaten Wisconsin-Green Bay (91-68), Columbia (68-54), VMI (90-57) and Syracuse (79-65), while losing to Texas A&M (70-47) -- in which the Buckeyes shot 24.1 percent from the field. OSU also made national headlines by losing to Findlay, 70-68, in an exhibition game. A concerning theme for the Buckeyes has been that, despite their size, they've been badly outrebounded in a couple games -- they surrendered 24 offensive boards against Syracuse and were outrebounded by a 46-30 margin against A&M.

Last Meeting: Tyler Hansbrough scored a team-high 21 points and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds to lead No. 7 North Carolina to a 98-89 win over No. 1 Ohio State on Nov. 29, 2006 in Chapel Hill in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. As a team, Ohio State hit 13-of-26 three-point field goal attempts. Ohio State led by as many as 10 points in the first half, thanks in part to connecting on 8-of-13 three-pointers (61.5 percent).

The Tar Heels used a 17-2 run to take control after the break. Carolina's second-half field goal percentage of 65.5 was its highest in a half since since shooting 73.3 percent in the first half of an NCAA Tournament first-round win over Oakland in 2005.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Ohio State, 8-2, and has won the last three meetings. The Buckeyes' two wins in the series came in 1929 in Columbus and in the 1992 NCAA Midwest Regionals in Lexington, Ky.

Projected Starters:
14 Jamar Butler (6-1, 195, Sr.) – 15.6 ppg, 4.8 apg, 51% 3pt
33 Jon Diebler (6-6, 200, Fr.) – 5.0 ppg, 2.0 apg
23 David Lighty (6-5, 215, So.) - 10.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg
45 Othello Hunter (6-8, 225, Sr.) - 9.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg
31 Kosta Koufos (7-0, 265, Fr.) – 18.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg

Key Reserves:
21 Evan Turner (6-6, 200, Fr.) – 5.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg
42 Matt Terwilliger (6-9, 245, Sr.) – 3.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg
52 Dallas Lauderdale (6-8, 260, Fr.) – 1.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg

OSU Info
Schedul e
Stats
Roster & Bios

Photo Gallery


Koufos ... Butler


Lighty ... Hunter


Turner ... Diebler


(Photos courtesy Getty Images)

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