Dienhart: Buckeyes continue to impress

This is the Buckeyes’ third Big Ten tourney title in the last four years and fourth in seven years. No Big Ten team has more. Ohio State’s march to this point is impressive when you consider they lost Jared Sullinger and William Buford off of a Final Four team from last season. To win today, it was all about defense. In fact, these are the two best defensive teams in the Big Ten. And it showed. How rough was it? The Buckeyes shot just 38.5 percent.

From 3-point range, Ohio State was 1-of-16 (6.3 percent). Deshaun Thomas led all scorers with 17 points, but he took 19 shots to get that total (hitting six). Ohio State trailed by a point at halftime but outscored the Badgers in the second half, 27-19. Ohio State also was helped by solid efforts from complementary players like Sam Thompson (eight points) and LaQuinton Ross (seven).

Traevon Jackson paced Wisconsin with 10 points. But Ryan Evans had only six, Jared Berggren two and Mike Bruesewitz six. Again, credit the OSU defenders, who are the peer of Wisconsin’s. Ohio State has won eight in a row and hasn’t allowed more than 60 points in any of those games.

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Key moment: Ohio State seemed energized after Wisconsin’s Mike Bruesewitz drew an iffy offensive foul with the game tied at 41 with less than seven minutes left. The OSU fans cheered, seeming agitated. From there, the Buckeyes took over, scoring six in a row to take a 47-41 lead and outscoring Wisconsin 9-2 the rest of the game. Game over. In fact, the Buckeyes trailed, 39-37, with 7:49 left and outscored Wisconsin, 13-4, to close the contest. The Badgers had one field goal in the stretch. OSU is now 22-9 all-time in this event and has won 18 of its last 22 games in the Big Ten tourney.

Key player: Ohio State point man Aaron Craft was the catalyst. Nothing new there, right? He had nine hard-fought points, hitting 4-of-9 shots. He also grabbed six rebounds and had an assist, impacting the game on many levels. And Craft played his usual sticky defense in limiting Wisconsin to 38.3 percent shooting overall and 16.7 percent from 3-point range.

Key number: 39, rebounds for Ohio State. Wisconsin had just 28. That edge on the glass helped the Buckeyes notch 13 second-chance points. And OSU won the battle in the paint, scoring 30 points in the area.

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About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Delmar Jones on 3/17/2013 @ 7:18pm EDT Said:

Buckeye play the way that I thought that they would with one exception,Coach Matta surprise me by playing Ross so much. The kid came through and I hope that Matta rewards him with more time playing time in the NCAA. I think that Wisconsin made a mistakes when they went small, this played right into OSU hand and hurt them on the bounds, thinks Bo. Craft was Craft and played his game like always, but the play of Ross and Thompson keyed this win. GO BUCKS

Ron Hillmann on 3/18/2013 @ 1:37pm EDT Said:

Ohio State is a very good team and congrats on your win. However, you are not a better team than any of the following: Wisconsin, Mich. State, Indiana. On WISCONSIN!!!!

C J Barbera on 3/19/2013 @ 5:54pm EDT Said:

Are you serious!?!!?? OSU is playing better TEAM basketball than any of the 3 teams you have mentioned! Heck!, Wisconsin couldn’t even take advantage of Ohio State’s “small line up” the last 5 or 6 minutes or so… Face it, the Big Ten was very competitive, but OSU DEFINITELY is playing the best basketball of the league. “On Wisconsin!”…GOOD LUCK TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH THE BUCKEYES!