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tBBC OSU Men’a Basketball At Midseason

Discussion in 'News' started by Scott, Jan 7, 2016.

  1. Scott

    Scott Guest

    OSU Men’a Basketball At Midseason
    Scott
    via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
    Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here


    [​IMG]
    (Thad appreciates the perspective)

    The B1G basketball season is heating up. And if Tuesday’s win over Northwestern is any indication, so are the Ohio State Buckeyes. After a dismal 8-5 pre-conference performance that included losses to UT-Arlington and Louisiana Tech and one high-profile win over Kentucky – which is looking less impressive each time Kentucky plays – OSU has seemingly flipped the proverbial switch.

    The Basketbucks are off to a 3-0 start in conference play and are one of just five undefeated in the B1G. OSU is playing much better, but we will all find out very quickly if the Buckeyes are ready for prime time or if what we have seen these first three conference games is a mirage, the benefit of soft scheduling.
    OSU plays at Indiana Sunday and then has a quick breather with Rutgers Jan. 13 before visiting No. 3 Maryland and No. 20 Purdue. Since we are at what is roughly the halfway point, I offer a few observations, some general, some specific, based on what I saw against Northwestern and some that will make you wonder how much I drank at lunch.

    One big concern is depth. I’ve always had issues with how Coach Thad Matta underutilizes his bench. So far only seven players get what I consider meaningful minutes. With Austin Grandstaff bolting (ironically right about the time OSU started playing better) there are going to be more minutes to distribute. Will A.J. Harris and Mickey Mitchell get those minutes or will the core group be taxed even more?
    Based on Tuesday I’m a little concerned. Mitchell played 11 minutes and Harris just eight. I realize Kam Williams had the hot hand and earned his 32 minutes, but at some point these guys are going to get tired, especially with the grind OSU faces in the next set of games and the season-ending trifecta of Sparty twice and Iowa. Here’s hoping Matta finds some time to rest the regulars and get his bench more involved.

    Scoring is somewhat bothersome. OSU is 181st nationally at a tad under 72 points per game. Only Rutgers, Wisconsin and Penn State, as far as B1G teams go, score fewer. I also fear there isn’t a go-to guy. Marc Loving at 14.9 is the top scorer. Just two others are over 10 per game (Keita Bates-Diop at 12.1 and Jae’Sean Tate at 10.9) with only JaQuan Lyle threatening the double-digit mark at 9.1.
    The Buckeyes desperately need that “go-to guy.” I love a team having balanced scoring and love teams that can have a different player emerge every game. But there needs to be That Guy. There’s 10 seconds left. Team down a point. Need a bucket. Who ya’ gonna call? That leads me to my next rant: Free throw shooting. Many, many games are won or lost at the line. That’s why teams commit myriad fouls in the final two minutes. OSU’s top player is Trevor Thompson at 79.4 percent. Seriously? As a team OSU is 65.1 percent. Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Dudley are laughing. I’m not.
    Now the good stuff.

    Matta’s teams have always defended well and fortunately this team is no different. OSU is 18th nationally and fourth amongst B1G teams at 63.1 ppg. As I mentioned, most of the B1g scores at a better rate than OSU so it will be up to the defense to keep the Buckeyes in games.

    This team is young and will only get better with experience. It’s off to a nice start in the B1G and even though the wins are against Minnesota, Illinois and Northwestern, in athletics confidence is so important and this team has to be on a high right now heading to Bloomington Sunday.

    Despite the free-throw woes, OSU is shooting the ball decently. Overall its 45.5 percent clip puts the Buckeyes 84th, just behind Xavier. OSU is trending up its last couple games, and taking out 3-point attempts, OSU is 62nd nationally at 52.3 percent, well ahead of top-ranked Kansas, which is 81st. And again, if they continue to trend up, the confidence grows and they start making more and more shots.

    Matta’s string of 20-win seasons doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy. I see at least nine more wins without any major upsets. Obviously OSU will stub its toe somewhere and at the same time win one of those games it wasn’t supposed to. Plus the Buckeyes should win a game or so in the B1G tournament.
    Typically 20 wins and a top-half finish in the B1G gets OSU in the NCAA Tournament. If the Buckeyes manage 20 wins, they would have at least 10 conference wins. More than enough to get the call on selection Sunday.
    And with that in mind, the schedule really favors the Buckeyes. After the games at IU, Maryland and Purdue, OSU has a plethora of winnable games before finishing with the aforementioned final three games. Being able to (hopefully) beat up on Northwestern, Rutgers, Michigan and Nebraska, among others, will give these guys a boost.

    Best-case scenario: Ohio State wins the games it should, loses the games it should and hits 20 wins overall and 10+ in the B1G. Given the roster turnover, Matta should garner more than a few coach of the year votes.

    Worst-case scenario: Other than an injury, OSU continues to struggle from the free-throw line and has trouble scoring against teams it should beat. The defense breaks down too often from taking chances – in an attempt to create turnovers to make up for the lack of offense – and OSU finishes with 16 or 17 wins and an NIT bid.

    The post OSU Men’a Basketball At Midseason appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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