Buckeye Basketball Breakdown: Northwestern

Written March 2nd, 2012 by Eric

The Buckeyes managed to beat the Cats with a timely shot from Sully in the paint.

After the Northwestern game concluded, there was one inescapable thought in my mind – this was a very good win for us. I saw it echoed among several other sportswriters on twitter, but ultimately saw a lot more negativity from the fans.

Why did we play so poorly against a team as bad as Northwestern?

Well, first off, Northwestern is not a bad team. As I pointed out in my preview of the game, this team often makes visiting opponents look, and play, stupid. It did not come as a surprise to me that they made us fight for every minute of the game clock. That’s what these guys do at home.

Northwestern, as you may have heard at some point, is also in the Big Ten. The Big Ten this year is one of the single toughest conferences out there. It shouldn’t surprise you, then, that we’re going to have a tough time on the road against a conference opponent. To be honest, we’ve been struggling on the road against opponents all season long – there’s no reason Northwestern was going to be any different, even if we did kill them in Columbus. Home court advantage is a significant factor in college basketball, after all.

Given some of the thoughts drifting around Buckeye Nation, here’s a list of some of the big things I took away from the Northwestern win. They’re not all positive, but they all generally show a positive trend in this team.
Read More

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.
Read More

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.
Read More

Wisconsin “Badgers” the Buckeyes at Home 63-60

Written February 26th, 2012 by WVaBuckeye

The Wisconsin Badgers came into Columbus looking for a big win on OSU’s Senior Day. They managed to pick it up in the last minutes of the game 63-60 on the shoulders of timely shooting from Jordan Taylor and Jared Berggren. DeShaun Thomas, despite having a big game with 21 points and 7 rebounds, was unable to put down a rushed shot with 14 seconds left to try to take the lead. Jordan Taylor scored 9 of his 19 total points in the final 10 minutes to put the Buckeyes away.

William Buford was going to have to score only eight more points than Sammy Prahalis to break the single game record set by Gary Bradds on February 10, 1964 against Illinois. This being his last home game in the scarlet and gray, it would have been something to see the two lone seniors of each squad pull it off.

Final home game for one of the best to wear the Gray's

The story early on was Wisconsin running with the Buckeyes. At the first media timeout, DeShaun Thomas had 9 of the 11 first points, while Buford had not even taken a shot. Evan Ravenel and Shannon Scott came in for Sullinger and Craft, and Thad Matta’s new rotations kept rolling.  William Buford hit his first two baskets at 13:23 and 13:03 of the first half for 5 points. Buford would leave the game with an injury to his right arm for a short time, but returned and hit a three shortly thereafter.
Read More

BBN Basketball LiveBlog: Wisconsin Part II

Written February 26th, 2012 by Eric

It’s Senior Night in Columbus!  The Bucks are facing the Wisconsin Badgers in what will be William Buford’s last home game of his college career! The game tips at 4:00 PM EST on CBS.  Hopefully we get Clark Kellogg…

Keep your eyes open on this game – the #Hop2TheRafters shirts should make a reappearance.  The University may have responded, but that doesn’t mean the campaign is over!  It’s not over until Hop (and, now, all of the legendary Buckeye Shooty Hoopers) get recognized!

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 3:30 PM EST.

Go Bucks!

Pregame Glance: Wisconsin II

Written February 25th, 2012 by Eric

Bo Ryan can't resist watching the train-wreck the end of this season has become.

The Badgers are visiting Columbus tomorrow for the Buckeye’s last home game of the season and are looking for a measure of revenge. The Badgers lost to the Buckeyes on February 4th in the Kohl Center 58-52, and would like nothing more than to pay the Buckeyes back. With Ohio State’s recent struggles, both at home and on the road, the Badgers likely feel good about their chances to pull the upset – but they have to escape their own history first.

The Badgers started out their Big Ten season in ugly fashion. After a win over Nebraska, Bucky discovered themselves on a three game losing skid starting with a bad loss at home to a mid-level Iowa team. But the ship righted itself, allowing the Badgers to win six straight games heading into the beginning of February and the first matchup with the Buckeyes.

After the Bucks escaped the Kohl Center with their first win since 2000, Wisconsin has only been able to break even. The Badgers first visited rival Minnesota and walked away with a tough 68-61 overtime victory. Unfortunately, they had to follow that difficult game with a battle against Michigan State in East Lansing – a battle that saw the Spartans defeat the Badgers by 14.

Since that game in East Lansing the Badgers have split games against Penn State (65-55 W), and at Iowa (67-66 L), leaving Wisconsin at 9-6 overall in the Big Ten. Amazingly, a 9-6 record at this point in the season is good enough for fourth place in the conference. That puts the Badgers two games back behind Michigan and Ohio State (who are tied for second), and a game ahead of fifth place Indiana at 8-7.
Read More

The Bucks hope to hoist this piece of hardware someday.

Since the loss to Michigan State almost two weeks ago, Buckeye fans have been in a sort of holding pattern regarding this year’s team. How good are they really? How far can this team go? Will they live up to the hype, or fall flat on their faces in the Sweet 16 again?

Most people have some pretty pessimistic answers to those questions – partly because most Buckeye fans are Football fans first, and reasonably react strongly to losses. It’s hard to think rationally about a loss when you’re used to a sport in which going less than undefeated is usually a recipe for not making the Championship Game.

Cheap shots at the BCS in a basketball article? check

I’ll grant you that the worst loss we’ve suffered all year was the 10 point home defeat to the Spartans. That loss was bad, but not necessarily bad bad. The Buckeyes learned a lot about themselves in that game, and we learned a lot about what it’s going to take this team to win basketball games.

Alright, I’ll do it. I’ll answer the question that everyone has been thinking, but no-one has had the courage to voice.

What exactly is it going to take for the Buckeyes to win the National Title this year?

Luckily there is a bit of a science to winning national titles in Basketball. Considering we have about 30 years of 64 team brackets to reference, and analyze, and disect, and rend, and…

You get the picture.

It turns out that there are many different metrics for championship winning basketball teams. In particular, I’m going to use one that was posted on Rivals a few years ago. What makes this one special? It’s a lot more quantitative than qualitative, and I just like it better. Maybe those two things are more related then I want to believe.

There are 13 different traits on this list. A team doesn’t have to have them all, there are always exceptions – for example UConn last year with 9 losses won despite winning squads typically suffering no more than 7 – but most championship teams have some significant set of these traits. So while missing on a couple is ok, we want to see a fair margin going the Buckeye’s way.
Read More