Ohio State Buckeyes
Current record: 18-6 (8-3)
2008-09 record: 22-11 (10-8), lost to Siena in first round of NCAA Tournament
2008-09 RPI: 32
2008-09 Sagarin: 28
Series: IU leads 101-74
Last Ohio State win:1/6/2010 (79-54 in Columbus)
Last IU win: 2/26/2008 (72-69 in Bloomington)
Last OSU win in Bloomington: 1/31/09 (93-81)
TV: 6:30, Big Ten Network
Just a week ago, Michigan State looked likely to run away with the Big Ten, but suddenly a five team race seems likely, and Ohio State, at 8-3, is in the hunt, in a four way tie (in the loss column) with MSU, Purdue, and, amazingly, Illinois. Evan Turner missed several games with a back injury, but returned against IU and not long after led the Buckeyes to an impressive comeback win at Purdue. IU's trip to Columbus was one of the ugliest moments of the Big Ten season and was IU's first true road game of the year. While Ohio State is more of an offensive-oriented team, the Buckeye defense, combined with Hoosier ineptitude, led to a 79-54 blowout loss for IU.
The Buckeyes are riding a seven-game Big Ten winning streak (their only loss in the last month was in a nonconference game at West Virginia) and haven't come close to losing to a sub-100 team such as IU. Ohio State's losses are to North Carolina, @ Butler, @ Wisconsin, @ Michigan, @ Minnesota, and @ West Virginia. The only disappointing loss on that list was the game at Michigan, and that loss came before Evan Turner returned to the lineup. Ohio State has only two road wins, but one of those was the amazing comeback at Purdue. IU, on the other hand, has played reasonably well at home in Big Ten play, with wins over Michigan and Minnesota and competitive losses to Illinois and Purdue, although IU was blown out by Iowa in what should have been the most winnable game of the bunch.
Simply, the Buckeyes are an astoundingly good offensive team. They rank #9 in the nation in points per possession and #3 in the nation in effective field goal percentage. They make 57 percent of their two point shots, 38 percent of their three point shots, turn the ball over only 17 percent of the time (#37 nationally). They don't crash the offensive boards, but why would they bother? On defense, OSU forces turnovers on 23 percent of possessions, plays excellent interior defense, and crashes the boards. The Buckeyes do allow their opponents to make 35 percent of their three point shots, so perhaps IU streaky shooters will have a chance. Here are OSU's stats:
Look at the efficiency of those top scorers: Turner averages 19.7 points on 13.8 shots; Diebler averages 12.8 on 8.7 shots; Buford averages 14 on 12; Lighty 12.7 on 9. This is very good for a team that doesn't get to the line all that much. As IU's stats show, none of the active Hoosiers have anything approaching Turner's points-per-shot ratio (and yes, I wish we could delete Maurice Creek's stats from this list, beautiful as they are).
|Verdell Jones III||22||30.2||5.0||12.3||40.4||0.7||2.6||26.3||4.3||6.0||72.0||0.9||3.1||4.0||3.3||2.6||1.0||0.5||1.5||14.9|
The Buckeyes present some concerns. IU is one of the worst teams in the nation in terms of having its shots blocked, and Dallas Lauderdale lives for blocking shots. IU, while improved from last year, still turns the ball over too much. Still, that is improving. IU has turned the ball over on 20 percent or more of possessions in 19 of 32 games this season, but only once in the last five games and only 4 times in 10 Big Ten games. Purdue, which forces turnovers even more successfully than OSU, didn't have much success in that regard against IU.
The Hoosiers have a chance, supposedly the 4th-best remaining chance for a win. But the effort will have to far exceed the performance at Northwestern.