Team of the Week: Ohio State
The Buckeyes certainly weren’t concerned with the number of people questioning whether or not they deserved to be mentioned as a contender in the Big Ten, and they did just about all that they could to prove to the country that they deserve to be mentioned alongside Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota. After going into Mackey Arena and beating a Purdue fairly soundly during the week, Ohio State put on one of the more impressive defensive performances that we’ve seen this season as they handed Michigan their first loss of the season on Sunday.
There were a lot of teams that did some impressive things this week, but I don’t think any of it was as valuable as what the Buckeyes were able to do. The Big Ten is absolutely loaded at the top of the league, and I think most have accepted the fact that Indiana and Michigan are the two most likely teams to win the conference. But the same way that Minnesota stated their case for relevancy by blowing out Illinois and storming back against the Hoosiers on the road, Ohio State did the same with their wins.
Five Teams Deserving a Shoutout
- Oregon: Oregon is in the same boat as Ohio State. After beating then-undefeated Arizona at home on Thursday night, the Ducks knocked off Arizona State late on Sunday night. Oregon is now 3-0 in the Pac-12 and just a half-game behind UCLA, who they play on Saturday night in Pauley Pavilion. That one should be fun.
- Miami: Playing without starting center Reggie Johnson, the Hurricanes went into the Dean Dome and knocked off North Carolina, following that up with a win at home over Maryland. They are now tied with NC State for first place in the ACC. And they’ve spent about a month of the season playing at 100%. This team is for real.
- Butler: I’m not sure that the Bulldogs could have imagined kicking off their tenure in the Atlantic 10 in a better way. On Wednesday, the Bulldogs went into Philly and knocked off St. Joe’s 72-66 on the strength of 28 points from Rotnei Clarke. They followed that up on Saturday with a win at Dayton in which Clarke suffered a scary neck injury and had to be taken off the court on a stretcher. That’s impressive.
- Boise State: Playing without four players — including leading scorer Derrick Marks, Boise State went to Wyoming and handed the Cowboys their first loss of the season in utterly thrilling fashion. After blowing a seven-point lead in the final two minutes, Jeff Elorriaga buried a three at the buzzer for the win. The Mountain West is going to be awesome this year.
- NC State: It doesn’t matter that Ryan Kelly was sitting out and Seth Curry spent the end of the game dealing with yet another injury. NC State still beat Duke in a game that they absolutely needed to: a) help bolster their tournament profile, and b) put them in the driver’s seat for an ACC regular season title. CJ Leslie had 25 points in the win while Richard Howell went for 16 points and 18 boards.
The Best of the Rest: Evansville, Indiana, Long Beach State, Northeastern, Ole Miss, Stephen F. Austin, UCLA, Wisconsin.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.