USA TODAY Sports
The Hoosiers look for their first season sweep of Ohio State since 2008.
Ohio State Buckeyes
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Pomeroy scouting reportSeries: Head Coach TV
While much of the discussion today has been and will be about the final home game for three seniors (and probably for junior Victor Oladipo and sophomore Cody Zeller), it's important to remember (not that the team would forget) that to clinch the Big Ten title outright the Hoosiers will have to beat a very good Ohio State team. The Buckeyes' season perhaps can be considered a modest disappointment. OSU doesn't have a bad loss (Duke, Kansas, Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan, IU, Wisconsin, with all but IU and KU on the road) but they haven't been able to defend their homecourt against the best of the best and haven't yet managed a high quality road win (their best to date is at Purdue). Still, the Buckeyes are talented and well-coached as they always are, and they have come close several times. OSU led Duke (with Ryan Kelly) at Cameron for most of the game, took Michigan to overtime at Crisler, and hung tough with MSU at Breslin before losing by three. OSU absolutely is capable of beating IU in Bloomington, even if KemPom thinks the Hoosiers have an 81 percent chance of prevailing. The Buckeyes are one of four teams with a chance to catch IU and to claim a share of the Big Ten title (although no more than three will; either Wisconsin or MSU will lose one more game because they play each other). Again, I don't have any doubt that the team will be focused and intense tonight, but both teams are playing for a conference title.
|Lenzelle Smith Jr.||28||27.6||3.6||7.9||45.7||1.5||3.8||40.2||1.5||2.1||70.0||1.1||3.8||5.0||1.6||1.4||0.5||0.1||1.8||10.3|
|Amedeo Della Valle||13||7.4||0.9||2.2||41.4||0.8||1.9||40.0||0.2||0.5||33.3||0.2||1.4||1.6||0.2||0.5||0.3||0.5||0.7||2.8|
While the Buckeyes have had a more balanced attack in years past, this season they are relying heavily on DeShaun Thomas, a former Indiana Mr. Basketball from Fort Wayne. Thomas is a bit of a volume scorer in that he needs 16 shots per game to get to 19.6, but obviously the Buckeyes wouldn't be leaning on him so heavily if they didn't need him. Lenzelle Smith, Jr., who was great against IU in Columbus in 2012, is the only other Buckeye in double figures. Of course, the wild card is Aaron Craft, the junior guard who averages nearly ten points per game, but is best known as one of the best perimeter defenders in the country and presumably is Victor Oladipo's only serious competition for defensive player of the year. In Big Ten play, the Buckeyes have been fine and both ends of the court but are second in the conference in defensive efficiency, allowing only .95 points per possession. As you will recall, IU was very effective offensively against OSU in Columbus. The 1.22 points per possession allowed by the Buckeyes are the most all season and the third worst defensive performance for OSU over the past four seasons. As I discussed at the time, that game was somewhat against type for IU, in that Oladipo, Cody Zeller, and Christian Watford together accounted for 68 of IU's 81 points. Obviously, the Buckeyes didn't have much success stopping anything IU tried to do that day, but I suspect they will be ready tonight. IU also took excellent care of the ball, turning it over only 10 times (15.1 percent).
IU's seniors were 20-17 at home in their first two seasons, but are 33-2 over the past two seasons. Let's hope that a very deserving senior class leaves Assembly Hall with a win.