Ohio State Basketball: Loss proves depth and little things mean a lot

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 23: Theo Pinson /

North Carolina defeated Ohio State by doing the things you would expect a veteran team in an outstanding program to do.

The 86-72 loss to North Carolina wasn’t because Ohio State was dominated from a physical standpoint. The Tar Heels simply did the little things correctly more often and have better depth.

Here are examples of things that separated North Carolina from an up and coming team like Ohio State.

Possibly the most important thing was the high percentage of quality possessions.

The Tar Heel offense seemed to be in rhythm most of the time with few hurried shots at the end of the possession clock or reckless turnovers. This resulted in many high percentage shots. That’s important in tournament basketball and when teams with similar talent face off.

On defense, rarely did North Carolina let an Ohio State player penetrate down the middle. They usually forced him to the outside part of the lane to allow for weak side help from one or two big men. It usually led to a turnover or a missed shot by the Buckeyes.

In contrast, on the other end of the floor a Tar Heel guard would penetrate inside the paint and kick the ball to a player who had popped outside. The open looks allowed North Carolina to hit 13 shots from behind the arc.

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While the starting five of the Buckeyes held their own, The Tar Heels had a big advantage from their bench. According to an article by James Grega of Eleven Warriors the North Carolina backups outscored Ohio State’s 32-6. That’s about the margin I would have guessed.

These things were to be expected though. Roy Williams has an outstanding program and keeps plugging talented players into his system. Chris Holtmann is in the developing stage in his program with quite a few inexperienced players.

The good news for the first year Ohio State head coach is he has discovered his team has the physical ability to match up to a top-tier team. Now it’s just about developing them into a cohesive unit.

The loss to North Carolina should be a good learning experience for his young Ohio State squad though and could help them going forward. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. There is only one more non conference game against Miami (Ohio) and then the Big Ten schedule revs back up.

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The Buckeyes are now 10-4 and 2-0 in the Big Ten. Things are looking up for this year’s squad and it will be interesting to see how they progress by the end of the season.