After taking care of Nebraska and Michigan State in their first two games of the Big Ten tournament, Ohio State ran into trouble on the offensive end of the floor in the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin.
Deshaun Thomas scored a team-high 17 points but he needed 19 shot attempts to do so, going 0-of-6 from beyond the arc, and as a team the Buckeyes (26-7) shot just 38.5% from the field (1-of-16 3PT).
So how did they manage to beat the Badgers 50-43, resulting in the program’s fourth Big Ten tournament crown under Thad Matta?
Wisconsin (23-11) shot 38.3% on the afternoon and scored just two points over the final 7:03 of the game, which proved to be the Badgers’ downfall as Ohio State received key baskets from Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross down the stretch.
Essentially the Buckeyes provided a blueprint of what they’ll need to do in order to have success in the NCAA tournament. It’s no secret that outside of Thomas the Buckeyes lack consistent scorers, and even Thomas can go cold on occasion. Ohio State will need more offense from players such as Ross, whose playing time has fluctuated throughout the season due in large part to defensive issues.
With two of the Big Ten’s best perimeter defenders in Craft and Shannon Scott leading the way it will be Ohio State’s ability to put together stops that will determine how far they advance.
And if their eight-game win streak is any indication, Ohio State is more than capable of advancing deep into the tournament.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.
The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.
Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.