Ohio State Buckeyes 82, Indiana Hoosiers 61: #2 OSU dominates IU.

 

This game played out as expected.  IU proved no match on the road against the #2 team in the nation, and Ohio State beat IU 82-61.  IU hung around for the first five minutes of the game, and the Hoosiers and Buckeyes were tied 8-8 at the first media timeout.  After that, OSU went on a 10-0 run and IU never really threatened again.  This was IU's third worst offensive performance, from an efficiency standpoint, of the season.  IU's .9 points per possession were worse than all other games except the loss to Kentucky and, interestingly, the win over Illinois.  The defense, at 1.21 points per possession, was bad but not comically bad.  This was something of a reversal of the story of the game in Bloomington, when IU held its own offensively but was torched badly by the Buckeyes.  Jared Sullinger had an off game, spending much of the first half in foul trouble and finishing with 5 points.  Unfortunately, freshman DeShaun Thomas, of Fort Wayne, more than made up for Sullinger's game, scoring a game-high 22 points on 7-9 from the field, including 2-3 from behind the arc. Given OSU's embarrassment of riches, Thomas hasn't played much this year, but his emergence could be very fortuitous as the Buckeyes head for the postseason. 

 


It is strange how certain games inflame the fan base despite the utter predictability of the result.    The message boards have been incredibly hand-wringy in the hours since the loss.  IU was a 17 point underdog per Las Vegas and a 20 point underdog per Pomeroy.  IU lost by 21.  It was unpleasant to watch, and OSU did not play its best game, but IU got stomped by a much better team.  Better teams than IU have been stomped by Ohio State this year.  It was a disappointment, but this was the most hopeless game on the schedule in the preseason, and it turned out that way.  So be it.
  • Christian Watford is taking a beating from lots of IU fans, and I understand why to an extent.  But after nearly two full seasons of play, it is obvious that he is playing out of position.  He does not have good games offensively against teams with good interior players.  His future is as a player who can play outside the paint.  The biggest problem, of course, is that he is a defensive liability at this point, and that has to change, but I can't get all that upset with him.  And one of his great strengths is that he is an excellent free throw shooter.  So, even if he struggles to score from the field, at least he is contributing from the line, although he uncharacteristically went only 4-6 yesterday.
  • Jordan Hulls is struggling to find his shot.  He was 1-9 from the field.
  • Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey continue to play well.  I think that before the season, many IU fans, including me, had been glossing over this class while salivating over Cody Zeller, Hanner Perea, Yogi Ferrell, etc., but I think this is going to be remembered as an important recruiting class for Tom Crean.  Both guys are solid, four year guys of the sort that are essential to the growth of a program, i.e., the sort of guys we don't really have right now in our upper classes. 

IU now enters the final week of the regular season, and it will not be an easy week.  The Hoosiers' home finale is Thursday night at 9 p.m. against Wisconsin, and IU finishes the regular season at noon on Saturday against Illinois at the Flying Saucer.  IU played well against Wisconsin on the road, leading for most of the game before falling short, and of course, IU beat Illinois at home.  I am hopeful that IU can find a way to win one of these, to at least equal last year's Big Ten win total. 
As for the Big Ten Tournament, IU is now assured of either the 10 seed or the 11 seed.  IU and Iowa are tied at 3-13, and obviously the Hawkeyes hold the tiebreaker.  If IU finishes ahead of Iowa, then IU will play the #7 seed at approximately 5 p.m. on the Thursday night of the Big Ten Tournament.  If IU stays in the 11 slot, then they will play at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night against the # 6 seed.  It appears that Northwestern and Minnesota are virtually locked in to the 8 and 9 seeds, and so IU's first round opponent almost certainly will be from among the 8-win mishmash that is Illinois, Penn State, Michigan State, and Michigan.  Maybe there will be some clarity after the weekday games. 

A few other notes:

  • Does anyone have any insight into what led to the technical?  I can't find anything online about it.  It appeared that after a rare standout defensive play by Watford, a charge drawn under the OSU basket, Crean was out on the floor pumping his fist.  If that's all if was, I have a hard time with the call.
  • I haven't read a transcript of Crean's postgame, but according to Twitter reports by Dustin Dopirak, Crean intervened in a pre-halftime conference that Matta was having with the officials.  No big deal, and probably the right thing to do, in my book. 

 

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