Granted the Buckeyes were coming into Sunday’s game with a red hot Jon Diebler after he set three point records against Penn State. Granted the Buckeyes were playing at home and honoring their seniors in front of a completely jazzed crowd. Still, I never expected to see the blowout that we saw on Sunday.
Diebler was unconscious again. He went for 27 points and made a sickening seven out of eight from three. Jared Sullinger fought hard down low all day for his 22 points. William Buford added 18 and David Lighty added 13, but other than Diebler this game by the Buckeyes seemed most impressive on the defensive end.
It is deceptive in the box score. The Buckeyes only had two steals. They didn’t block any shots. The Badgers only had six turnovers in the game. The difference? The Buckeyes were closing out hard on every shot. They were getting to guys who had been open on skip passes and putting a hand in the face. The Buckeyes held the Badgers to 41.7% shooting including only 9-24 from beyond the three point line. That same three point line has been one of the scariest parts of the Buckeyes’ game this season.
The Bucks proved yesterday that if they do run into a Cinderella that can bomb from the outside, they are actually capable of closing out to the shooter and making life difficult. They have done it sparingly this season, but when they wanted to make a statement on Sunday, they got it done. It doesn’t mean they will, but fans can hope.
The Buckeyes end the regular season 6-2 against ranked opponents. The Buckeyes beat #10 Florida, #21 Minnesota, #22 Illinois, #12 Purdue , #20 Minnesota (again,) and #10 Wisconsin, while dropping those two in February to #14 Wisconsin and #11 Purdue.
And now it is time for the Big Ten Tournament. Ohio State is the #1 and will wait to play the winner of Northwestern vs. Minnesota on Friday March 11th at Noon on ESPN. Should the Buckeyes win that, they will face the winner of Illinois vs. Michigan on Saturday March 12th. Should they win that, Ohio State will play the Championship game on Sunday.
No matter what happens in the Big Ten Tourney though, the Buckeyes #1 seed is basically a wrap.
(Photo Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)