Since I’m about to flip my “People of Wal-Mart” calendar from January to February, I thought it was time to begin to examine NCAA tournament resumes for Big Ten teams. Let’s take a look at Ohio State’s vitals. Take note that my numbers cited are from the start of the week and come from www.realtimerpi.com.
Here’s what we’ve got on the Buckeyes …
|Offense (Rank nationally)|
Ohio State: 16-5 overall; 3-5 Big Ten
Strength of schedule: 25
Projected record: 23-8 (10-8)
Quality wins: North Dakota State (41 RPI); Delaware (68)
Bad losses: Penn State (125 RPI); at Nebraska (75)
|Defense (Rank nationally)|
Big games left: at Wisconsin (Feb. 1); at Iowa (Feb. 4); Michigan (Feb. 11); Minnesota (Feb. 22); Michigan State (March 9). See the full schedule.
Bottom line: Again, these numbers don’t reflect last night’s ugly outcome. Entering Wednesday night, OSU’s RPI still was glowing. And the strength-of-schedule was good, too. Still, the Buckeyes don’t pass the eyeball test once you get them off paper and onto the court. The loss last night at home to Penn State was beyond brutal. Don’t let anyone try to spin it otherwise.
What can this team hang its hat on? It’s struggling in all phases of the game: leadership, shooting and defending. Does losing hurt enough? If you are scoring along High Street–and I know you are–that’s five losses in six games. And the lone win in that stretch was against lowly Illinois, which may be the Big Ten’s worst team. There is no go-to man. And there are too many turnovers in crunch time. Look in the mirror. You know who you are.
Are you ready for this? The team’s best win is over North … Dakota … State. Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Want more ugliness? Eight Ohio State wins are against teams with a triple-digit RPI. No one down at the Varsity Club is toasting to that.
The good news for the Buckeyes is that they have plenty of games left against quality opponents. And the Big Ten tourney will offer more opportunity to impress vs. good clubs. But a sense of urgency is building … at hyper speed. It’s time for Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith, Jr., LaQuinton Ross, Aaron Craft … SOMEONE … to take charge.
|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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