The Ohio State men’s basketball team beat Illinois in double overtime yesterday, in their second game in two days. Today they face Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament championship game. As with the Michigan game on Friday and the Illinois game yesterday, the Golden Gophers no doubt feel they need to win to make the NCAA tournament — and winning today’s game would give them an automatic bid.
For the Buckeyes, the first two games of the tournament have been nail-biting classics. Evan Turner’s shot on Friday to beat the Wolverines already has entered Ohio State lore, and yesterday’s thriller against Illinois was a game of runs and cold spells where Illinois twice had the chance to win the game on a last-second shot but was unable to even get the shot off.
Whatever happens today, you have to give tremendous credit to the Buckeye starters. Yesterday two of the starters, David Lighty and William Buford, never left the floor; they played the full 40-minute regulation game and both five-minute overtime periods without a breather. Evan Turner, who fouled out with a minute left, played 49 minutes; Jon Diebler, who sat for a bit in the first half with foul trouble, played 40 minutes. The box score for the game is here. Those four are true “Iron Men” playing a fast-paced game where the players are constantly in motion and in contact with their opponents.
As a fan, I would like to see the Buckeyes win today, but I would like to see them do so with more help from their bench. The last thing we need, with the NCAA tournament only days away, is a season-ending injury that occurs because players are fatigued. And it would be nice if Ohio State didn’t have to play again until Friday evening, too. Even Iron Men can use some rest now and then.