What to Expect: Ohio State

  • 03/04/2013 4:48 pm in

030413rtWith just two regular season games remaining, Indiana has already clinched its first share of the Big Ten championship since 2002 and can capture its first outright title since 1993 with a win over Ohio State or Michigan. The Buckeyes, who have won three straight games, are up first at home for senior night in Assembly Hall.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN with Mike Tirico and Dan Dakich on the call at 9 p.m.:

When Indiana traveled to Columbus to play Ohio State on Feb.¬†10, the Hoosiers were staring at their biggest threat for back-to-back losses this season to-date. IU followed its first loss, to Butler, with an overmatched Mount St. Mary’s team at home and its first conference loss to Wisconsin with a game at Northwestern. Those were bounce back games Indiana was supposed to win and the Hoosiers did just that. The trip to Ohio State, however, came on the heels of a late collapse at Illinois. How Indiana responded would go a long way in determining its fate in the Big Ten standings.

When the dust settled in Value City Arena on that Sunday afternoon, Indiana played well enough to not only beat the Buckeyes handily, but also retain its No. 1 ranking in the AP poll despite the aforementioned loss in Champaign just three days earlier. At that point, it was arguably IU’s best effort of the season as three players notched 20 or more points as the Hoosiers weathered a tough road environment for a convincing win.

PERSONNEL

As has been the case for a good part of the season, Ohio State is still searching for a reliable second and third scoring option to pair with Deshaun Thomas, who is a good bet to earn All-Big Ten and All-American honors after a very productive junior season. The 6-foot-8 junior from Ft. Wayne uses 27.2 percent of Ohio State’s possessions and averages a league-best 19.2 points. His effective field goal percentage has dropped about six percentage points from last season, primarily because he’s now the focal point of every team’s defensive scouting report, but he’s still shooting close to 50 percent on twos and 36.2 percent on threes. In the first meeting, Thomas scored 26 points, but needed 20 shots and nine trips to the line to get there.

Joining Thomas in the frontcourt rotation are sophomore Amir Williams, who was saddled with foul trouble in IU’s win in Columbus, senior Evan Ravenel, who fouled out, and sophomores Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross. Williams is very limited offensively, but is the Buckeyes best shot blocker (9.6 block percentage) and offensive rebounder (13.6 OR%). Ravenel is a big body who can back opponents down on the block and clean up the defensive glass (19.8 DR%). Thompson is a high flying wing player who finishes well around the basket and in transition, while Ross has the talent to put up points in a hurry, but has struggled to consistently earn minutes.

Aaron Craft is the leader of the Ohio State backcourt and is regarded as one of the nation’s best defenders. Indiana was able to foul out Craft in Columbus and getting him into foul trouble really limited his ability to wreak havoc with ball pressure. His steal totals are down from a season ago from 2.5 per game to 1.9 as is his field goal percentage, which has dropped from 50 to 39.8. Forced to carry a heavier offensive load, Craft’s efficiency has taken a hit.

Lenzelle Smith Jr. also starts in the backcourt and he’s the team’s leading 3-point shooter at 40 percent. He’s heavily reliant on the three to score as 107 of his 221 field goal attempts have come from behind the arc. Shannon Scott is the backup point guard and he’s eighth nationally in steal percentage, but shoots just 42 percent on twos and 36 percent on threes.

POMEROY PREVIEW

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Free throws were a big key to Indiana’s success in the first meeting with the Buckeyes as the Hoosiers posted a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 57.1. It’s a key stat that again bears watching in the rematch as Ohio State ranks just seventh at getting to the line in league play while IU is setting the conference pace. Typically Ohio State does a good job keeping opponents off the line as IU’s performance was the best in that category for a Buckeye league opponent.

Both teams are very good defensively, with Ohio State surrendering just .96 points per possession in conference play, good for second behind Wisconsin, and Indiana giving up just .97, which ranks third. From a pace perspective, the Buckeyes are in the lower half of the league and will probably look to keep the game in the halfcourt as much as possible.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

With an electrified group of fans filling Assembly Hall hungry for an outright Big Ten championship, Indiana could have its best atmosphere of the season for its final home game. Senior night typically produces one of the more engaged crowds of the season, but this one has a chance to elevate to another level because of what’s at stake. If the Hoosiers win, they can celebrate the program’s first outright Big Ten championship in 20 years with over 17,000 fans.

What shouldn’t be overlooked, however, is what’s at stake for the Buckeyes. Not only are they playing for seeding in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments, Thad Matta’s group still has an outside chance at a piece of the Big Ten title. Ohio State has been average on the road in league play with wins over Purdue, Penn State, Northwestern and Nebraska and losses to Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin.

This game, like the first one, could come down to Indiana’s ability to again get to the foul line and limit turnovers. In Columbus, the Hoosiers committed just 10 turnovers and Yogi Ferrell and Jordan Hulls combined for just two. Look for IU to again try to play through Cody Zeller and throw several guys at Deshaun Thomas to bring fatigue to the game and also force other players to step up offensively for the Buckeyes.¬†Pomeroy likes the Hoosiers to prevail — 76-65 — with an 82 percent chance of the Hoosiers celebrating an outright Big Ten championship on Branch McCracken Court.

All tempo-free stats via KenPom.com.

Filed to:

  • xCowHoosier

    I hope the Hoosiers bury them early in the second half so that CWat, Jordy, Elston (and MoC??) can all be on the floor together at the end…

  • Indiana is the better team. They have already dominated OSU 81-68 in Columbus. They are playing at home. It is Senior Night. Indiana can clinch the Big Ten title, outright, for the first time since 1993. Indiana can lock up the number one seed in the Midwest Regional and get to play NCAA tournament games in Indianapolis. They have EVERYTHING to play for. And I will repeat… Indiana is simply the better team. There is no acceptable excuse for losing this game. None. Just do it.

  • And can all be taken out of the game to a standing ovation with 30 seconds left.

  • Btown88

    Or each come off the floor in the final minute to a standing O!

  • jwcasey

    Let’s take care of business and send the 2009 class “outright,” and spend the remainder of the season proving the national media’s lazy “not a single dominate team in CBB in 2013” season-long narrative wrong.

  • SCHoosier

    Play defense like we did against Iowa and its all good (assuming of course we can put the ball in the basket) Thoma swill get his..Craft will do his thing..but let’s keep the rest of the Bucks under control and IU should come out with a hard earned “W”

  • pedro4

    I thank Purdue for showing our guys what can happen on senior night. Leave it all out there guys…Big Ten Champs, #1 seed, chance to play regional in Indy. This is a BIG game.

  • pedro4

    I thank Purdue for showing our guys what can happen on senior night. Leave it all out there guys…Big Ten Champs, #1 seed, chance to play regional in Indy. This is a BIG game.

  • marcusgresham

    Maybe, just maybe, since it’s going to be in front of a raucous AH crowd, Aaron Craft will be called for 75% of the fouls he commits. If so, he’ll only log about 17 minutes before fouling out.

  • IUMIKE1

    Now marcus, you’re being awful hard on Hatchet Hands. DWS But then again if his shots from the outside look anything like they did against MSt we would be better off to having him on the floor and daring him to shoot the 3.

  • jwcasey

    He would’ve fouled out before the first media timeout with Iowa game officiating. How is Craft still only a junior? I feel like him and Siva have been playing for a decade.

  • Geoff_85

    Aaron Craft is right – Ohio State has A LOT to play for. In fact, they are still in contention to get a share of the conference crown. But Indiana should dominate this game. I might be a little disappointed if they don’t. I do think Ohio State is a good team. Sweet 16-Elite 8 good. But the Hoosiers need to come into this game with a killer instinct. They need to send a message that says, “hey, we are sole Big Ten champs. We’re the favorite to win the national title, and we’re gonna show you why.” They should be FIRED UP. This is where they can take the conference crown away from a team that has got at least a share of the Big Ten title the past 3 seasons and 5 of the past 7. This is what you’ve worked so hard for, Hoosiers. It’s yours for the taking. Seniors, you came here when this program was dead. You have resurrected it, and turned it into a monster again. But it’s a hungry monster, and you need to feed it tonight. FEED THE MONSTER. Jesus, what the hell am I talking about? No one should ever be this tired at work. And now I’m going to stop typing.

  • SCHoosier

    Not as long as Shurna was at NW..or is he still there in disguise?

  • iuoiu

    Maybe we can get that clip of RMK croaking about how there is nothing like OSU basketball that they played before the game at Columbus and play it back on our own video screen pre-game. You know, since it did so much to fire up OSU lol.

  • MillaRed

    I think winning this game means a lot. We have much to gain. Sole possession of the B1G title is a big deal. Senior night. OSU rivalry. Aaron flushy cheeks Craft getting miserable again.

    Maybe a win vs. OSU while Gonzaga plays Ottawa State Community College will put us back where we belong. Plus, I would rather not have any pressure at Michigan. Render that game “somewhat” meaningless in terms of standings and we are in a better position mentally.

  • Geoff_85

    Mo has eligibility next year.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    My statement below is aside from anything to do with the Michigan game. Frankly, I want us to go up there and destroy them. There is no reason we can’t.

    In all honesty I would like to see us clinch outright at home tonight. Solely from the standpoint that the the players deserve the adulation they would receive from the fans for winning the Big Ten. It has been a long time since we have won something at home, and these guys deserve it.

    We have come a long way since losing an NIT home game to Vandy. We owe a lot to this squad, and Coach Crean for bringing us back. What better way than to celebrate an accomplishment than doing it at home in Assembly Hall.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I will tread lightly as that is almost a guaranteed touchy subject.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I will tread lightly as that is almost a guaranteed touchy subject.

  • Geoff_85

    I did. We all know what the speculative conversations on here will be like. I didn’t want to get the ball rolling on that, so I merely pointed out that he could play next year.

  • LeeTimmer

    The old timers here will remember Jim Shikenjanski of Minnesota. I swear that guy played 12 years.

  • LeeTimmer

    I agree. If RMK wants to be a punk, IU should stop trying to reach out to him. Use his own words against him. According to what he told the NY Times, he’s never coming back to IU, anyway.

  • unclekerfuffle

    I would be surprised to see Mo back next year. As I understand it, he will have his degree and, let’s be honest, he will probably not play at the next level.

    He has gone through hell that he or no one else could have anticipated; nothing worse than a dream being lost through no fault of his own. I suspect he is ready to move on with his life considering his potential for playing time next season.

  • hoosierstateofmind

    Jess Settles at Iowa, that guy was there for the entire 90’s it seemed

  • This will be a very difficult and hard fought game. Mota is a motivator and this is clearly the biggest game of the yr for OSU. The problem for OSU is the matchups – something we clearly win. Yogi is better than Craft, VO et al will stop Thomas, nobody can match up with CZ..and jordy will rain 3s…Will is also dominate here..If we play passively however, we lose. That will not happen…..as most on this blog know – CTC has changed the culture. We play hard.

    The key is also to keep the 1 seed for the big ten tourney since I mortaged the house for those seats…..

  • Drinking coffee and staying up for this one! Unless it is on the BTN, then please Twitter away!

  • jermhoosierfan

    It is on ESPN, but the seniors being honored will be on BTN right after the game.

  • mel_anon

    Pretty hard to disguise a shot that ugly.

  • Medina_Sod

    Pat Forde had a great response to that in his article right after the game in Columbus:

    There are, of course, plenty of things like Ohio State basketball. And none of those things are as good as Indiana basketball.

  • Medina_Sod

    Pat Forde had a great response to that in his article right after the game in Columbus:

    There are, of course, plenty of things like Ohio State basketball. And none of those things are as good as Indiana basketball.

  • Dick T

    Not feelin so good about this game.. Thinking we get upset.

  • IUdisc

    is the media wrong? We are good but we are not dominant.

  • IUdisc

    VO is obviously the best on the court, but Yogi is not better than Craft. That is a joke of a comment and I am embarrassed as an IU fan.

    They can’t guard CZ.. that is true

  • Oleman

    Blow them out tonight guys….
    So we can give the proper farewell to CWat, Derek, Jordy..
    and, don’t hate me, Cody and Victor.

  • Ole Man

    Alex; have to say I have really enjoyed your “What to expect” columns this year.
    Gives me insights you don’t find anywhere else without a lot of digging.

  • jwcasey

    IU is dominant if we win out, like I said in my original comment.

  • marcusgresham

    As much as it sucked when Thomas chose to go to Ohio State, it’s better that way. He couldn’t play with this bunch because he doesn’t pass like they do.

  • marcusgresham

    I’m pretty sure Clarence Caesar played at LSU with both Pete Maravich and Shaquille O’Neal

  • marcusgresham

    Or Granville Waiters at Ohio State. Maybe that’s just because he looked like a 50 year-old man when he was a sophomore.

  • marcusgresham

    Offensively I think he may be. Craft is not a good shooter, and Yogi’s ballhandling and passing are as good as anyone.

  • Ole Man

    Well, that stinks. Now go to Mich and play like the Hurryin Hoosiers instead of the Maryland Terrapins.

  • Ole Man

    You nailed it, unfortunately.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Would there be any harm in making him a grad assistant?

  • unclekerfuffle

    That thought crossed my mind also, considering how much time he has spent on the bench and keeping stats. I also wonder if that is a path Jordy might take.

    It’s only an assumption but I figure both of them have considered entering the coaching profession at some point.