Big Ten Geeks: End of the Road

Ohio State’s season came to an end in the national semifinal in a close loss to Kansas. The Buckeyes led for the vast majority of this game, and most will probably remember the game as a great comeback by Kansas, but the truth is that Kansas played a much better game than Ohio State. Consider that the Buckeyes were held to 32 percent shooting on two-pointers for the game. Further, OSU was held to rebounding just a quarter of the available offensive rebounds.

This wasn’t entirely unexpected–that’s the sort of thing that happens when one faces both the best shotblocker and best defensive rebounder in the country–yet offensive rebounding and two-point shooting have been the pillars of Ohio State’s offensive success.

But Kansas is a great defensive team. Struggling to score against the Jayhawks does not doom one to failure. But Ohio State’s normally excellent defense was merely just very good. Especially troublesome was the fact that KU recovered 38 percent of its misses. Those extra possessions proved to be the difference, notwithstanding the fact that Kansas was sloppy with the ball (not entirely out of the ordinary for Bill Self’s squad). But that all said, give a lot of credit to Thad Matta and his staff. It’s not easy to lose the likes of Jon Diebler, David Lighty, and Dallas Lauderdale and bounce back like this.

Whether Ohio State can return to the top of the Big Ten next season will, once again, depend. It’s somewhat of a yearly tradition for Buckeyes fans to read tea leaves regarding whether various All-Conference performers will opt to play professional ball the following season. This year will be no different. Has a trimmed-down Jared Sullinger convinced NBA general managers that he can play the four position? Has Deshaun Thomas’ offense blinded the same group to the fact that his defense is, well, terrible? No matter what, the Buckeyes will be without the services of Willie Buckets, who if you told me was a four-year player back when he was a freshman, I wouldn’t have believed you. But to Ohio State’s good fortune, Buford leaves tied as the number three all-time leading scorer at Ohio State.

Well, that’s it for us. We’ll pick back up sometime around November, though we may pop in a couple times before then. Have a great summer, everyone. Enjoy Mad Men.

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