What to Expect: Ohio State

020812yeIndiana continues a two-game roadtrip on Sunday afternoon in Columbus as the No. 1 Hoosiers meet No. 10 Ohio State at Value City Arena. The two teams split their series a season ago with Indiana prevailing in Bloomington and Ohio State winning in Columbus.

The game will be broadcast on CBS at 1 p.m. with Kevin Harlan and Clark Kellogg on the call:

Sunday’s meeting with Ohio State will be billed as Indiana’s most important game of the season thus far and it’s hard to argue that assertion given what transpired Thursday night in Champaign. Instead of taking the floor with a 5-0 league record on the road and a one-game lead in the conference standings, the hiccup against Illinois puts this game in the must-win category if Indiana hopes to stay in a favorable position for the Big Ten title. The Hoosiers still have trips to Michigan State and Michigan on the slate and those are the two teams currently tied with IU for first atop of the conference.

PERSONNEL

Ohio State’s stalwarts from last season’s Final Four team — Jared Sullinger (NBA, Boston Celtics) and William Buford (graduation, Spain) — have moved on, but the Buckeyes are once again in the thick of the Big Ten race. Under Thad Matta, Ohio State has captured at least a piece of the league title for three consecutive seasons and this team, which started in the preseason top five, has performed reasonably well with a 17-5 record overall and a 7-3 mark in league play.

The centerpiece, at least offensively, is 6-foot-7 junior Deshaun Thomas, who is finally the go-to-guy in Columbus. Thomas, a former Mr. Basketball in Indiana, uses 26.7 of Ohio State’s possessions and is shooting 50 percent on his twos and 40 percent on his threes. In league play, he’s the only Buckeye scoring in double figures at 20.0 points per game. It’ll be interesting to see how Indiana chooses to approach Thomas defensively as slowing him down will be pivotal to holding Ohio State down offensively. Victor Oladipo, Will Sheehey and Christian Watford all seem like logical candidates to get a shot at Thomas.

In the backcourt, the Buckeyes defensive prowess is centered heavily around Aaron Craft, Shannon Scott and to a lesser extent, Lenzelle Smith Jr.  Craft has the ability to cause major havoc with his defense and Scott, who’s playing close to 18 minutes a game in conference play off the bench, has the 15th best steal rate in the country. Neither guy has played particularly well offensively as Craft shoots just 31 percent on threes and Scott, who paces the club in assist rate, has an effective field goal percentage of just 43.6. Smith is the biggest offensive threat of the trio and it was his hot shooting that caused major problems for Indiana last January in Columbus. At 6-foot-4, Smith is a tough matchup for IU’s smaller backcourt and he’s the team leader in 3-point field goal percentage (41.5).

Sam Thompson, an ultra athletic sophomore, starts on the wing but his classmate LaQuinton Ross played outstanding in Ohio State’s loss at Michigan on Tuesday with 16 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes. Given the Buckeyes offensive struggles, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ross continue to earning more playing time. Like Thomas, he uses a lot of possessions and is efficient. In limited minutes, Ross is shooting close to 40 percent on threes and 50.2 percent on twos.

The void left by Sullinger is being filled by Amir Williams, a former McDonald’s All-American and Evan Ravenel, a big body who is the team’s most effective defensive rebounder. At 6-foot-11, Williams boasts the 17th-best block rate in the country and is a highly effective offensive rebounder (13.4 OR%). Both Williams and Ravenel can be foul prone at times and Ohio State’s frontline depth beyond those two is very thin.

POMEROY PREVIEW

020812ue
In four of Ohio State’s five losses, it has allowed 73 or more points, and given the potential for Indiana’s offense to put up major numbers, the Big Ten’s second best defense will need to clamp down in order to protect home court. Ohio State is allowing conference opponents to score just .93 points per possession. The Buckeyes are also limiting their fouls in Big Ten play as opponents have a league-worst free throw rate of 22.6. Given their lack of overall depth and the amount of minutes Thomas (37.7) and Craft (35.7) are playing in Big Ten games, playing defense without fouling is critical to Ohio State’s success.

Indiana’s Achilles heel since the onset of the Big Ten schedule has been turnovers (20.4 turnover rate), and that was never more evident than Thursday night when the Hoosiers shot better than Illinois, got to the foul line at a better rate than the Illini and also won the battle on the glass, and still came up short.

Given the overall length and athleticism of Ohio State’s rotation, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Buckeyes are allowing only 42.6 percent shooting on twos and are the league’s second-best shot blocking team. For Indiana to win Sunday, finishing plays around the basket or at least getting to the foul line at a reasonable rate will be key.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

With its back against the wall, Indiana has played some of its best basketball this season. The Hoosiers responded after a home loss in January to Wisconsin with a five-game winning streak including wins over No. 1 Michigan, No. 13 Michigan State and a pounding of arch rival Purdue on the road. Sunday is another such situation as Indiana fights to stay atop the Big Ten in a venue where it hasn’t won since Feb. 10, 2008.

Ken Pomeroy actually likes Indiana to prevail 72-71 with a 52% chance of the Hoosiers coming out on top. If IU can weather the crowd early, muster up a number close to its 1.13 points per possession average in Big Ten play, take care of the ball and not let Thomas go off for 30, this should be an opportunity to steal a win on the road and quickly negate Thursday’s loss.

All tempo-free stats via KenPom.com.

  • sloan screen #45

    OSU should have beat Michigan in Ann Arbor. They are much improved IMO with Ross, Thompson and Williams giving Thomas some much needed help. Hopefully the Hoosiers will refocus and steal a win on the road. We are due to get one in Columbus. Kinda surprised IU is favored in this one, though.

  • IUHoosiers23

    Let’s see who the best defender in the Big 10 really is. Need this one Hoosiers! Let’s do it boys!

  • IUHoosiers23

    Let’s see who the best defender in the Big 10 really is. Need this one Hoosiers! Let’s do it boys!

  • Dave H

    Big Time opportunity to make a statement on the road after a tough loss. Looking forward to this one!

  • Dave H

    Big Time opportunity to make a statement on the road after a tough loss. Looking forward to this one!

  • unclekerfuffle

    Time to cut out the street antics and focus on playing at the level our Hoosiers are capable of playing at on the road and in AH.

    Give me Victor every time over Craft for a complete player. We’ll see tomorrow.

  • SCHoosier

    What to Expect:OSU? I wish I knew following the TH debacle. This team tends to get up for big games…but that was a really tough loss.Will need our best effort..decent match ups except for Smith/Hulls….OSU has some big men coming on. Wonder who will take VO.(who HAS to take Thomas) Yogi will learn some things from Craft today.. Go Hoosiers.

  • SCHoosier

    What to Expect:OSU? I wish I knew following the TH debacle. This team tends to get up for big games…but that was a really tough loss.Will need our best effort..decent match ups except for Smith/Hulls….OSU has some big men coming on. Wonder who will take VO.(who HAS to take Thomas) Yogi will learn some things from Craft today.. Go Hoosiers.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    cut down on the turnovers rebound with them and We have a chance in this one. time for CWAT to get his swagger back, we need him tomorrow!! rooting for the badgers today btw GO HOOSIERS!!

  • CreanFaithful

    Genuine question… what are you referring to when you say “street antics?”

  • Hoosier Hysteria

    Probably means the trash talking that got us the technical and gave Illinois a 4 point swing right in the middle of our run.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.toal.9 Peter Toal

    OSU is angry, will come out on fire. I think IU has chemistry issues, and we can be out-coached at the end of the game, despite what Bob Kravitz says.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.toal.9 Peter Toal

    OSU is angry, will come out on fire. I think IU has chemistry issues, and we can be out-coached at the end of the game, despite what Bob Kravitz says.

  • unclekerfuffle

    I like to see enthusiasm from our players with things like fist pumps or the flying chest bumps with team mates. However, and this may just be my old school view, I don’t like to see any player, especially and IU player, directly taunt the crowd or an opposing player.

    As much as I like Victor and Will, at times, I think they step over the line.

    I also hate to see a player whine about what he considers to be a bad call; that is for the coach and the fans to show disagreement, not a player. And while I’m on my soap box I might as well go off on a tangent about profanity from the crowd–a total lack of class.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    My guess is that when the Vegas lines open tomorrow Ohio State will be the favorite. (1.5?) Pure guess though.

  • Eastwood88_2

    Negative juice is flowing today for many. I will not be one. Dakich just punked us on the bigten ranking. Saying we are not tough. Three teams beat us by being tougher. He is not alone in this assessment. I fully expect a brawl tomorrow from our squad. Might not be a W, but better punch back away from the hall. Time to “zip up” or critics!

  • PDXHoosier

    I agree. OSU gave that game away at the end. Mostly because Craft decided to take all the shots in winning time and didn’t make them. Hopefully he will forget they have Thomas on their team against us also.

  • sloan screen #45

    I dont know if I would say those three teams were tougher. The three losses were more on IU IMO than those teams “beating” us though. This team should be undefeated at this point. This game is the first on the schedule that IU “should” lose. IU has painted themselves into a corner now with a couple of bad losses and now they gotta man up and win a game or two where not expected to. GITTER DONE BOYS!

  • http://twitter.com/Ronc99 Ron Cordry

    Hopefully, Christian Watford plays a SENIOR :(

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    My favorite player in the B1G right now is Ben Brust!!! This is the one game left on Michigan’s schedule outside of MSU in E. Lansing and IU at Ann Arbor I thought they had a chance to lose. This one would really help IU!

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Winning is hard in the B1G but I really think IU matches up well with OSU and I’ve had this one on the schedule as a win for quite a while! Of course I didn’t have the Illanoying game as a loss either!

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Winning on the road that is!

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.toal.9 Peter Toal

    LOL…Belein just “pulled a Crean” and cost his team a win. I am thinking that MSU will win the Big Ten just because they have a game coach.

  • sloan screen #45

    Yea that was tough rooting for Wisky. Badgers helped us out. Now we gotta root for PUke against Sparty. Thats gonna be even tougher.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    He manages to keep Hardaway on the floor for the final shot after he fouled out and he still got out-coached. Bo Ryan is a genius!

    Remember when we out-coached Izzo at the end of that game a couple of weeks ago?

    I’d love to see a game decided by players, but it doesn’t happen.

  • copernicus462

    It’s early, but I’m selfish. I want to see the Hoosiers in the Indy regional (luckily acquired some good tickets). So for my personal benefit, this figures to be a “must win”.

  • BluegrassHoosier

    WS needs to let his game do his talking instead of his mouth.

  • BluegrassHoosier

    To win the B10, we’re going to have to win a couple of games in which we aren’t favored, so this would be a good first step. OSU is a 1.5 favorite.

  • HoosierKen73

    Hmmmmm.. “Yogi will learn some things from Craft today”..??? I was thinking the game is tomorrow at 1:00 PM…am I wrong and it’s really tonight?…
    Hey Wisky’s upset of the Wolverines today could help a lot if we can go on a win streak now in the B1G… Wouldn’t that be great?

  • HoosierKen73

    Hmmmmm.. “Yogi will learn some things from Craft today”..??? I was thinking the game is tomorrow at 1:00 PM…am I wrong and it’s really tonight?…
    Hey Wisky’s upset of the Wolverines today could help a lot if we can go on a win streak now in the B1G… Wouldn’t that be great?

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    Decent guess then. Cody has to step up in this one. I don’t think their bigs have the poise to play him without fouling him. Their guards defend really well though, so ours will have to do a better of job handling the pressure and still managing to feed the post without telegraphing the entry. Actually as I write this I kind of think maybe it’s our guards that need to step up their game to get it to Zeller.

  • HoosierKen73

    Wow, I would think we were all rooting for the Badgers…and ‘THEY DID IT’… That is so cool. It has to help us after the Illinoy loss… Now if we just beat the $uckeyes tomorrow… That’d help put salve on the wounds from the loss at Champaign… Go Hoosiers…

  • Kevin Tolliver

    CWAT just needs to play his game, DONT try to do too much, cause thats when he hurts us and usually bad. When he plays within his game he is lights out good.

  • Kevin Tolliver

    CWAT just needs to play his game, DONT try to do too much, cause thats when he hurts us and usually bad. When he plays within his game he is lights out good.

  • SCHoosier

    Off my meds…): If TC was having trouble getting them to forget the ILL debacle…WI’s upset of UM should be a real motivator for tomorrows performance..or should be. Note:; I said tomorrow..meds care kickinin:)

  • unclekerfuffle

    I apologize; I must have clicked on the wrong button. This was supposed to be a response to a question that CreanFaithful asked about my earlier post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.toal.9 Peter Toal

    Pick em right now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.toal.9 Peter Toal

    I agree. I really want that #1 seed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.toal.9 Peter Toal

    I apologize to Belein. He told his kids to foul, they just did not do it.

  • Andrew

    He is exactly right. This team is not tough. It likes to be comfortable. Tomorrow is a bad matchup for IU b/c the Buckeyes get into you and guard.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    yes,don’t dribble into traffic and be ready to catch and shoot!! splash for 3

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    as long as we don’t taunt the buckeyes after we dunk on them we should win !!

  • Henry

    If IU has some chemistry issue, then OSU will win. If that side story is some fantasy from the press, then IU will win big !

  • Ole Man

    Agree about the profanity.
    Politely disagree on Vic and Will going over the line.

  • unclekerfuffle

    They both played with an edge and swagger today; no disagreement on my part about their performances and demeanors today.

    Proud to call them Hoosiers and always have been.

  • Bobby

    I think you were wrong on every single statement you made…

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