Buckeyes Evade Wildcats 75-73 in Evanston

Written February 29th, 2012 by Eric

Craft's offense showed up today to help out against a fiesty Northwestern team.

The Northwestern Wildcats played host this evening for a battle with the Ohio State Buckeyes, and gave the Buckeyes everything they could handle and some. Jared Sullinger put down the last second layup off an excellent Aaron Craft pass to win the game. Sullinger finished the game with another double double with 22 points and 18 rebounds, more in line with what he is capable of doing every night. DeShaun Thomas also secured a double double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Craft scored 14, and Lenzelle Smith put down 12. Drew Crawford of Northwestern led all scorers with 23 points, closely followed by John Shurna’s 22.

Despite discussions about the possibility of starting lineup changes to try to kick-start the Buckeyes better, Ohio State came out with their standard opening five. Matta clearly trusts his guys to get the job done, so we will just have to see if these guys can make the changes necessary to play elite basketball again. While we saw some steps in the right direction tonight, they have yet to demonstrate that they can close out a game – especially after grabbing a big lead.

Surprisingly, the Buckeyes came out strong in this one. Lenzelle Smith started things off on the right foot with a pair of baskets to go along with a trip to the charity stripe. Jared Sullinger also managed an early trip to the line, indicated that the Buckeyes were attacking the basket early. In so doing, they managed to open up a couple of long jumpers for Craft, who drained a three and an 18 footer from the left wing.

Northwestern wasn’t going to take it lying down. The Cats used a nice Drew Crawford dribble drive early to get the Buckeyes focused on defending the lane. Crawford was then able to use the collapsing defense to find open shooters on the outside. The strategy enabled Northwestern to hit three of their first six treys, and kept the game closer than it otherwise would have been with the Buckeyes playing such motivated basketball.
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BBN Basketball LiveBlog: Northwestern Part II

Written February 29th, 2012 by Eric

It’s time to wake up and pay attention. March is just around the corner, and the Buckeyes have two regular season games left. Tonight’s matchup? The Bucks take on the Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston, IL.

While you wait, go checkout our friends in the Buckeye Bloggers Network! the Buckeye Blog, OSU Silver Bullet, Buckeye House Call, Our Honor Defend, and Men of the Scarlet and Gray. Fox Sports Ohio also joins us as usual. The liveblog will kickoff at 8:00 PM EST.

Go Bucks!

Pregame Glance: Northwestern Part II

Written February 28th, 2012 by Eric

Bill Carmody's default look on Selection Sunday.

The Northwestern Wildcats are playing host to the Ohio State Buckeyes on Wednesday evening for the second to last game of the regular season. Bill Carmody’s team is standing at 17-11 for the season, and 7-9 in the Big Ten – good for 7th overall in conference. Over their last six meetings the Buckeyes lead 5-1, including an overtime battle in the Big Ten tournament last year. The last Northwestern victory occurred in Evanston on February 18th, 2009 by a score of 72-69.

Northwestern has never made the NCAA tournament in the history of their program. During the 2009-2010 campaign, the Wildcats put together a 20 win season that should have been enough to earn them their first bid. Surprisingly, they were denied entry and relegated to the NIT for the second year running. They again missed the tournament last season with a slightly less impressive 18 win season, but they were at least in the conversation.

The Wildcats find themselves in the conversation again this year. Sitting at 17 wins with two games left on the schedule, there is an outside chance that the ‘Cats could play their way into the tournament. Not surprisingly, many in the Big Ten find themselves rooting for Northwestern to make it into the field of 68 – though, of course, not at the expense of their own teams.

A lot of their recent success, and the reason that they’re consistently making post-season play, has to do with how Bill Carmody has them playing in Evanston. The Wildcats have been an incredibly difficult team to beat at home during the last few seasons, making Welsh-Ryan Arena a surprising intimidating building. You may recall last season when the Buckeyes, in their only meeting with Northwestern, escaped with a 58-57 victory after Northwestern missed a desperation half-court heave at the buzzer. That trend has continued into this season as a number of teams will attest.
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Shots from the Schott

Written December 29th, 2011 by Eric

With both JoeL and I in attendence, we thought we would share what we saw during the Northwestern Game.

Thoughts on the Game:

JoeL:

William Buford had a huge night with 28 points.

  • It was nice to see a full house in our first big ten game. Look for more of these to come as word from the ticket office is there are only tickets left for 3 of the remaining home games: and those are up in the nose bleed section.
  • This obviously wasn’t a very easy game for people to get to. The BTN had us as a 5:30 start, right during rush hour traffic, so there were some unhappy people as they got there mid way through the first half.
  • So much for Shurna and Crawford being the top scorers in the conference. Our team defense and athleticism really shut those two guys down.
  • When Matta only plays 1 guy for 30+ minutes that is a very good thing for us. Nice to see everybody get some time to run on the court. It also helps when the guy with the most minutes is also the leading scorer with a career high 28 points. Huge game from Will.
  • Jordan Sibert, where have you been? Please don’t leave! That is the Sibert we are going to need to step up and knock down those 3′s.
  • Seems like we have our Mojo back after what was a struggling stretch there for a couple weeks starting with Sully’s back and foot problems.
  • Anyone notice the special shoes that Sully is wearing to protect his foot. Doesn’t seem to bother his playing style at all.

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Basketball LiveBlog: Northwestern

Written December 28th, 2011 by Eric

It’s Big Ten season here in Columbus, Ohio! The Buckeyes are set to play the Northwestern Wildcats at 5:30 pm.

Our Buckeye Blogger friends will be joining us at 5pm tonight. Go say “hi” to them today! OSU Silver Bullet, Buckeye House Call, Our Honor Defend, the Buckeye Blog, Men of the Scarlet and Gray, Scarlet and Game, and Fox Sports Ohio.

If you’re looking for web-video for the game, try First Row Sports (warning: pop-up ads). Click the basketball tab, and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the right game.

Go Bucks!

2011 B1G Preview: Northwestern

Written October 25th, 2011 by Joe Dexter

John Shurna has the amount of toughness that makes Tom Izzo drool.

Since 2000, Northwestern fans have known what to expect on the court to start the basketball season. A constant struggle in the Big Ten. A Princeton offense that had yet to fully see the proper personnel to completely flourish under head coach Bill Carmody. Finally in 2008, things started to come together. After a 17-14 record to finish the season, the Wildcats went into 2009 strong. After the defeat of back to back top 25 teams (Michigan State, Minnesota), the Wildcats became ranked in December, for the first time since 1969. Northwestern would ride that momentum into 2010, when the Wildcats battled within the conference all year long.

Ohio State fans can attest to their ability to stay in ballgames. After a one point win over the purple machine in late January, the Wildcats battled with the Buckeyes to overtime in the Big Ten Tournament.

Gone though is the heart of the Wildcat offense in Juice Thompson, who made the Princeton attack flow. The Wildcats didn’t just lose a hard working scrapper turned top notch point guard for the Northwestern system — they have to replace the production of the all-time assists leader in NU history. He went from being a scrappy defender to one of the biggest clutch shooters in school history. Most importantly, he gave the Wildcats control of the ballgame.  Thompson played a major part in the 1.7 assist to turnover ratio last season, which was the second best in the nation to Big Ten foe Wisconsin.

Though a lot of talent returns to this team, Northwestern basketball will still have an uphill battle during the 2011-12 season.  Every year, Chicago’s Big Ten team battles with the fact that expectations are low no matter who takes the court. Another winning season, with a better showing in Big Ten play, could finally change the identity of a school best known for it’s struggles and inability to compete at a high level.

There is always something strange about watching a team that wears purple uniforms competing on the court. What’s even more strange is that this team has a chance to be above .500 for the fourth straight year. They also have the talent to make a run in the NCAA tournament, if everything comes together.

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Buckeyes squeek by Wildcats 67-61 in OT

Written March 11th, 2011 by Eric

Sullinger's tough rebounding was one of the few things that saved the Buckeyes in this one.

The Buckeyes entered the second day of the B1G Tournament coming off the bye.  Their opponent for the day, Northwestern, had just come off a difficult win over the Golden Gophers the day before.  Some thought the game would be a cake walk over a conference bottom-feeder.  Other’s believed that the earlier one point win was a further sign of things to come.  The latter group couldn’t have been more right.  Jared Sullinger’s 20 points and 18 rebounds, including 16-18 from the charity stripe, were the saving grace for the Bucks in the overtime battle.

The Buckeyes struggled to shoot the ball the whole game long.  Despite having shot near 68% for the game against Wisconsin, it seems like they saved nothing for Northwestern, hitting a season low 32.2%, including 20% (3-15) from beyond the arc.  There are many reasons why the Bucks could have shot that poorly, including a lack of drive and desire coming into the game.  More than likely, however, the primary reason was the defensive effort of Northwestern, which again made life difficult for OSU’s offense.

Playing Northwestern seems to be the basketball equivalent of slogging through molasses.  The Wildcat offense loves to sap time off the clock with their Princeton Offense.  They happily pass the ball lazily around the arc looking for a weakness in the opponents defense.  Then, they turn around and play aggressive man defense on the other end just to drive the offense crazy.

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Nerdwestern game prep, B1G Tourney style

Written March 10th, 2011 by Jay

Tournament game tomorrow! Fist pump!

As my friend Jordan likes to say, the Madness can be smelt.  We’re now less than a day away (in fact, less than 17 hours) from Ohio State tipping off for their first, and hopefully not last, contest of the 2011 Big Ten Tournament.  This game will launch the Buckeyes into this season’s tournament play, and while the NCAA’s are the real showcase, there is business at hand to attend to in Indianapolis.

With their win over Minnesota earlier today, Northwestern earned themselves a chance to try and knock off not only the #1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament but also the current #1 team in the country.  Ohio State only had Northwestern once on the Big Ten regular season calendar this year, and that game proved to be the most closely contested outing for the Buckeyes, not counting the losses at Wisconsin and Purdue.  Part of the reason the Wildcats gave the Buckeyes trouble was Bill Carmody’s defensive strategy.  Tomorrow we’ll see if this same strategy is employed by Northwestern again, or if Carmody comes out with a modified look in an attempt to slow down the Ohio State offensive attack. Read More