Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, March 14, 2014

Never count out the champion, right? Reigning Big Ten tourney champ Ohio State rallied from 18 points down in the second half to top Nebraska, 71-67, and advance to Saturday's semifinals. The Buckeyes will play Big Ten regular-season champ and rival Michigan in the first of two semifinal games Saturday. Get Tom Dienhart's instant reaction to Ohio State's win in this post.


Key moment: Leading by nine points, and with a chance to push it to 11, with just under eight minutes remaining, Nebraska's Terran Petteway lobbed a pass to Walter Pitchford, who tried to complete a highlight-reel alley-oop. He missed it, and Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross turned it into an And-1 play on the other end of the floor. That's a five-point swing, and that was the play that really seemed to turn the tide in the Buckeyes' favor.

Key player: LaQuinton Ross. He had 26 points and 13 rebounds. Last night, he had 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. The guy is becoming a flat-out stud. Also gotta mention little-used Amedeo Della Valle, who played a huge role off the bench in notching 12 points and six rebounds.

Key shot: Sam Thompson took a pass from Shannon Scott and slammed it home to cut Nebraska?s lead to 58-56 with 4:29 to go. The Huskers had led by as many as 18 points in the second half. The emphatic dunk sent a message that momentum officially had swung in Ohio State?s direction. The Buckeyes subsequently closed the deal from there and squeezed out the triumph.

Key number: 36, Ohio State?s points in the paint. The Buckeyes time and again got to the hoop on drives. And 16 points were second-chance tallies, as the Buckeyes won the battle of the boards, 43-34.

Up next: No. 1 Michigan looms in the semifinals on Saturday. The Wolverines and Ohio State met just once this season with Michigan prevailing in Columbus, 70-60. When these rivals battle, it rarely disappoints.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.