Following a 71-49 loss to Wisconsin, Ohio State did not look like a team that could win a 2013 Big Ten tournament. At 18-7, the Buckeyes looked like a team that would end up as an eight-seed. But, following a five game winning streak, Ohio State looks poised to win the Big Ten tournament and make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. The question is: Can they cut down the nets in the United Center?
The Buckeyes will begin their journey on Friday at 6:30 p.m. against either Purdue or Nebraska. Neither of these teams present much of a threat to Ohio State but anything can happen when a tournament bid is on the line. Ohio State’s ticket is already punched. If they mail in their performance, they will find themselves headed home early. But, the Buckeyes will probably want to show that they are the top dog in the conference. Moving on in the first round should not be difficult.
Ohio State’s opponent in the second round would most likely be Michigan State. The Buckeyes split the season series with the Spartans. Each team won their home game. Michigan State won the first game, 59-56. The Buckeyes won the second, 68-60. On a neutral floor, it seems like Ohio State would win but the game will inevitably be close. The Buckeyes’ chances of surviving are good but there is a possibly they will be tripped up in this round.
If they survive the Spartans, Ohio State will find themselves in the Championship Game. Their opponents could be anyone but Indiana and Michigan are the teams who are most likely to make it to the Championship from that side of the bracket. Ohio State split the series will both of these teams. Ohio State was only truly out played in one of them, an 81-68 thrashing at the hands of Indiana.
These games are toss ups. Indiana’s diversified attack is a challenge for any team. They probably have an advantage against Ohio State. Michigan’s best player, Trey Burke, only had 15 and 16 points in his matchups against Ohio State. This is below his season average. He can be neutralized by Aaron Craft on many possessions. But, Michigan still has a lot of weapons. At the end of the day, this is Ohio State’s downfall.
The Buckeyes play great team defense at times. It maybe the best in the nation when they are performing at their potential. But, Ohio State’s lack of another weapon besides Deshaun Thomas may hamper Ohio State’s ability to win the Big Ten Tournament and why the Buckeye’s cannot make a return trip to the Final Four.