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Buckeyes Primed For Tip-Off Event

Ohio State will be playing for a championship this weekend in the College Basketball Hall Of Fame Tip-Off event this weekend at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn.

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The fourth-ranked Buckeyes, 1-0 after Sunday’s 82-60 win over Albany, will take on Rhode Island (0-2) at 5 p.m. on Saturday. A win in that game would put the Buckeyes against Seton Hall (2-0) or Washington (1-1) in the Tip-Off championship game at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Saturday’s game will be webcast on ESPN3.com, while Sunday’s game will be televised by ESPN2.

(Check out comments from OSU coach Thad Matta in the video above. Players Evan Ravenel and Lenzelle Smith Jr. also discuss the tournament in the video below.)

“With the guys we have back, it’s a little bit of a Big Ten tournament type feel with (back-to-back games),” Matta said. “I think doing this early with two games in two days on a neutral site will tell us a lot about our team. You play the first day and win or lose you come back.

“Having some guys who have been through it will be advantageous to us. I think this weekend will be great for us in terms of seeing where we come out at.”

Aaron Craft led OSU with 20 points and seven rebounds in OSU’s season-opening win over Albany.

“In the two years he has been here, Aaron has asked himself, ‘What does this team need me to do to win?’ ” Matta said. “If that is more scoring this year, then he knows he has to be more of a threat. He gets 20 and seven with one turnover … we would obviously take those numbers and know they will be hard to come by.”

Deshaun Thomas added 19 points, while Lenzelle Smith had 18 points against Albany.

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Scouting The Opponents

Matta shared a thought on Rhode Island.

“Rhode Island has played Virginia Tech and Norfolk State,” he said. “The scary thing about them is they have a couple of guys who have had monstrous games. They have not shot the ball well, but in watching both games their shots are a centimeter from going in, so guarding will be huge.

“They are a pressure defensive team. On a neutral court some challenges will lie ahead, no doubt.”

Here are thumbnails on OSU’s opponents in the Tip-Off event (Seton Hall plays Washington at 7:30 p.m. Saturday):

* Rhode Island (0-2) – URI is off to a rough start under new coach Danny Hurley, losing to Norfolk State 67-55 and Virginia Tech 69-50. Senior forward Nikola Malesevic and junior guard Xavier Munford are each averaging 16 points a game.

URI was a dismal 7-24 last season, including 4-12 in Atlantic 10 play.

* Seton Hall (2-0) – The Pirates have opened with wins over Missouri-Kansas City (75-36) and Norfolk State (78-65). Junior guard Fuquan Edwin is averaging 19 points and seven rebounds, while junior center Gene Teague is averaging 15 points and nine rebounds through two games.

Last year, Seton Hall just missed the NCAA Tournament and finished 20-12 after an NIT second-round loss to Massachusetts.

* Washington (1-1) – The Huskies opened with an 85-63 win over Loyola Maryland before losing to Albany 63-62 on Tuesday night. Senior guard Abdul Gaddy and junior guard C.J. Wilcox are each averaging 16.5 points for the Huskies.

Washington, coached by former UCLA star Lorenzo Romar, won the Pac-12 regular season title but did not get selected to the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies finished at 24-10 after an NIT third-round loss to Oregon.

Also Notable

* OSU’s scheduled season opener last Friday against Marquette on an aircraft carrier in Charleston, S.C., was canceled due to condensation on the court. Game organizers say they will move ahead with plans for similar games in the future.

“I want to play on a submarine next year … you’re moving through the water and that would be the distraction,” Matta joked. “There would be no wind and no moisture.

“That was a great experience but we didn’t get the game in. I would probably be a little bit apprehensive to do it again just because of so many unknowns.”

* Matta said it was unlikely that game will be made up or replaced.

“We looked at the schedule, but I doubt it,” he said when asked if they could add another opponent.

* Matta said freshman guard Amedeo Della Valle has resumed practicing. He had been out about a week with an ankle issue.

* Following this event, OSU will return home and host Missouri-Kansas City next Friday at 6 p.m. at Value City Arena. That will be OSU’s last tune-up before visiting No. 9 Duke on Nov. 28.

Also Check Out

More basketball content this week:

Caryer: What To Say About Craft?

Matta Signs Loving, Williams

Buckeyes Roll Past Albany In Opener

Photo Gallery: OSU-Albany

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