Ohio State reestablishes itself as team to beat in Big Ten

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Ohio State’s resounding 80-63 victory over Indiana resulted in something I never thought I’d see this season: Illinois leading the Big Ten.

OK, at 4-1, the Illini are actually tied with Michigan State, but hey, it’s a real thing. It’s largely a result of scheduling. Three of those four wins, including last week’s over Ohio State, came at home, while Thursday’s game at Penn State means they’ve have played the conference’s four worst teams as well.

But hey! It’s a real thing! And it just reinforces an idea someone floated a few weeks ago. That guy sure is smart.

ANYWAY, if the margin of victory wasn’t a healthy indication, the Buckeyes’ victory did reassert them as the team to beat the Big Ten. They’re a game behind the Spartans, but already have road games (losses) at Indiana and Illinois out of the way. (MSU’s only tough trip thus far has been at Wisconsin.) Both have relatively similar schedule of one-off games (Iowa for both and Penn State, Nebraska and Penn State are among those).

Predicting how those teams will finish is a crapshoot (Spartans just lost at Northwestern!), but we can see how they played before the weekend thanks to John Gasaway.

The Buckeyes and Spartans were head and shoulders above the rest of the conference in efficiency margin. But after the weekend’s results, Ohio State’s got the superior numbers and also is playing like the team to beat (especially when Brandon Paul’s not on the court).

After three weeks of conference play, the Buckeyes’ play is about the only thing that’s gone as expected in the Big Ten.

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