Indiana Hoosiers v. Ohio State Buckeyes: do the Hoosiers have a prayer? (preview)

Ohio State Buckeyes
Current record: 13-0
Current RPI: 22 (IU is #194)
Current Sagarin: 2 (IU is #118)
Current Pomeroy: 1
2009-10 record: 29-8 (14-4), Big Ten co-champs, Big Ten Tournament champs;lost to Tennessee in NCAA Sweet 16
2009-10 RPI:22
2009-10 Sagarin: 10
2009-10 Pomeroy: 5
Series: IU leads 101-75
Last Ohio State win: 2/10/2010 (69-52 in Bloomington)
Last IU win: 2/26/2008 (72-69 in Bloomington)
Last OSU win in Bloomington: see above
TV: 6 p.m., ESPN2

Blogs: Buckeye Battle Cry, Eleven Warriors

Indiana is mired in a three game losing steak, and all of the teams that beat IU are decent but beatable teams.  Unfortunately, the Hoosiers are now in a terrible position.  Because of the schedule, even solid improvement over the next three games may not lead to a single win.  Tomorrow evening, IU hosts Ohio State at Assembly Hall.  Next Tuesday, IU travels to Minneapolis to play Minnesota at the Barn, and on Sunday IU plays at Northwestern.  The Pomeroy numbers are not pretty: Pom gives IU an 8 percent chance of beating Ohio State and 26 and 23 percent chances against Minnesota and Northwestern.  Obviously, I hope the team does improve and puts itself in a position to win down the road.  Unfortunately, such improvement might be too late to save IU's postseason hopes. 

At the moment, however, the only game that matters is tomorrow's game against the Ohio State Buckeyes in Bloomington.  2010 national player of the year Evan Turner is gone, but OSU hasn't missed a beat.  Freshman Jared Sullinger is having an incredible year.  While North Carolina freshman Harrison Barnes somehow was named to the preseason all-American team, Sullinger might have been a worthy choice. Sullinger, who is listed at 6-9, 280, is averaging 17.5 points for the Buckeyes and 10.2 rebounds per game.  He's shooting 60 percent from the field and 70 percent from the line, and, perhaps most impressive for a young big man, he is committing only 2.2 fouls per game in 27 minutes of play.  William Buford, David Lighty, and Jon Diebler are the returning Buckeyes averaging in double figures.  All are threats from behind the arc, and all are in the 6-5 to 6-6 range.  Ohio State is a matchup nightmare for IU, essentially at every position.  Diebler, in particular, is a problem.  He is generating nearly all of his offense from behind the arc, and he makes 48 percent of his shots from long range.  That's what I mean about improvement: IU could play 40 minutes of aggressive perimeter defense, but that may not be enough to stop OSU's oversized guards from raining down threes.  Fort Wayne native DeShaun Thomas, while playing only 18 minutes as a freshman, is averaging 11.7 points per game and is shooting 50 percent from the field (but only 30 percent from 3).  Finally, Dallas Lauderdale, who has been playing for the Buckeyes for about 8 years and looks old enough to be Greg Oden's father, is back for yet another year.  He isn't much of a scoring threat, but he blocks 2.5 shots per game and rebounds well.

As good as the Buckeyes are on offense, their adjusted efficiency of 81.8 is best in the nation.  Their opponents turn the ball over on 27.2 percent of their possessions (#2), their opponents don't get to the line, and they are holding their opponents to a 27.2 offensive rebounding percentage.  They don't truly have a weakness defensively.  They are ranked #89 or better in every single defensive category.

On offense, OSU's offensive efficiency ranks them only #4 in the nation.  The Buckeyes don't get to the line much, but they take excellent care of the ball (17.8 turnover percentage, #3) and rebound very well (OR percentage of 38.9, #17). 

The Buckeyes' numbers, in short, are overwhelming.  Pomeroy predicts a 16-2 conference record for OSU, but the Bucks are favored in all of their conference game.  Their best chance for a loss is at Purdue, where Pom gives OSU "only" a 63 percent chance of victory.  They are at 70 percent or higher in all other games (they don't have to play at Michigan State, either).  No team has gone undefeated in the Big Ten since IU did so in 1975 and 1976.  The Buckeyes present the best chance to go undefeated in the conference since Illinois made it to the last game of the season in 2005 (losing to Thad Matta's first Ohio State team.

Ohio State's stats are below:

 


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Jared Sullinger 13 27.5 6.2 10.5 59.1 0.1 0.4 20.0 4.5 6.3 70.7 3.3 6.8 10.2 1.2 1.2 1.2 0.5 2.2 17.5
William Buford 12 28.3 5.7 12.4 45.6 1.1 3.3 33.3 0.9 1.3 73.3 1.3 3.4 4.7 3.9 2.1 1.2 0.3 2.2 13.3
David Lighty 13 29.6 4.5 9.8 46.5 1.6 3.8 42.9 2.2 3.5 63.0 1.5 2.6 4.1 3.7 1.3 1.8 0.3 1.5 12.9
Jon Diebler 13 31.2 3.9 7.7 51.0 3.0 6.2 48.1 1.3 1.6 81.0 0.4 1.7 2.1 2.5 0.8 1.2 0.1 0.8 12.2
Deshaun Thomas 13 18.2 4.4 8.6 50.9 0.7 2.4 29.0 2.2 2.6 85.3 2.6 2.8 5.4 0.7 1.0 0.8 0.2 1.4 11.7
Dallas Lauderdale 13 20.8 2.5 3.9 64.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.7 44.4 1.8 3.4 5.2 0.1 0.9 0.1 2.5 1.6 5.4
Aaron Craft 13 26.1 1.9 3.6 53.2 0.7 1.7 40.9 0.8 1.0 76.9 0.5 2.1 2.5 4.8 1.9 1.8 0.1 2.0 5.3
Jordan Sibert 12 11.7 1.1 3.8 28.3 0.5 1.8 27.3 0.6 0.9 63.6 0.5 1.0 1.5 0.8 0.9 0.8 0.1 1.0 3.3
JD Weatherspoon 10 5.4 0.8 1.6 50.0 0.0 0.4 0.0 0.2 0.9 22.2 0.2 0.6 0.8 0.4 0.2 0.1 0.0 0.2 1.8
Lenzelle Smith Jr 10 6.4 0.6 1.5 40.0 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 0.4 1.0 0.9 0.5 0.4 0.0 0.4 1.2
Eddie Days 4 2.3 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.0

It's very difficult to imagine a victory in this game.  IU could play its best game of the season by far and still lose by ten or more points.  Still, the Hoosiers can't approach the game seeking improvement.  They have to look for the win, and hopefully they can find a way there. 

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