Huge Win, Huge Boost

Uncle Mack has chided me for not writing about the outcomes of games after I’ve written a preview.  Tonight I’m happy to write about the Buckeyes’ excellent win against Michigan State at the Breslin Center.

The Buckeyes shot the ball well this afternoon, which was the biggest difference between this game and their loss to Michigan State earlier this year, and also rebounded extremely well — which is crucial if you hope to stay in games against the Spartans.  The bench contributed big time, with Sam Thompson and, especially, Evan Ravenel making key plays and baskets with the contest in the balance.  And when it came down to crunch time, Ohio State went through Jared Sullinger, who made two excellent passes for buckets that kept the score even, and then William Buford stuck in the stiletto and delivered the coup de grace.

Playing so well down the stretch is wonderful, but it is particularly impressive given the fact that the Buckeyes were on the road, Draymond Green was playing his last game at the Breslin Center, Tom Izzo was calling time outs with his customary mastery, and the Izzone was yelling its lungs out every time Ohio State touched the ball.  Today’s result is even more impressive because Ohio State clawed back from 15 points down in the first half deficit and a 9-point halftime deficit.  Those who have questioned the character of this team got an answer in today’s gutty performance.

So, the Big Ten ends with a three-way tie for first place, and the Buckeyes get a boost as they head into the Big Ten Tournament.  Let the tournaments begin!

Battling For The Big Ten Lead

Tonight the Michigan State Spartans come to the Schott to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes.  The two teams stand atop the Big Ten, and the winner will have a leg up on winning the Big Ten regular season championship.

This should be a classic match-up.  Michigan State is coached by Tom Izzo, whose teams have dominated the Big Ten for years, and is led by Draymond Green, the do-everything senior who is a very strong Big Ten Player of the Year candidate.  Green is one of those players every fan would love to have on their favorite team.  He works hard, leads by example, hustles, shoots well from the outside, can post up and rebound, will scrap for the ball and get the crucial garbage bucket, and is a great passer.  What’s not to like?

Michigan State has other weapons, too.  Keith Appling is a quick, capable point guard, Brandon Wood is a solid shooting guard, and Branden Dawson is one of the best freshman in the conference.  The Spartans also have lots of big bodies — in the form of Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne, and Green — to throw at Jared Sullinger.

The Buckeyes struggled on defense in their game against Purdue, but were able to outscore the Boilermakers.  I’m hoping that Buckeyes coach Thad Matta has figured out how to defend against the high screen Purdue used so effectively, because we can be sure that the crafty Izzo will have the Spartans ready to test that proposition.  How the Buckeyes respond after their disappointing defensive effort against Purdue will tell us a lot about this team and its prospects.