Preview: #8 Indiana at #5 Ohio State

By Joe Beale on January 15, 2012 at 6:00a
Those goofy sweater vests and ties have to go. Jim Tressel they are not.Cody Zeller is a good finisher around the hoop.
Ohio State Buckeyes #5 Ohio State 15-3, 3-2 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 4:30 PM ET - CBS —— The Schott Columbus, OH Indiana Hoosiers #8 Indiana 15-2, 3-2 Big Ten Roster | Schedule

Today in front of a sell-out crowd and a national television audience, Ohio State will try to rebound from another disappointing road loss as they welcome the Indiana Hoosiers to Columbus for a late afternoon showdown. IU is also coming off a loss, as they dropped a home contest on Thursday to a Minnesota team that had previously been winless in the conference. 

In fact, IU was also coming off a loss when OSU played them in Bloomington on New Years Eve. This is notable because Indiana has only two losses on the season, and both have come right before playing OSU. While the Hoosiers could have been forgiven for dropping one on the road against Tom Izzo's Spartans, the loss to Minnesota is explainable only in terms of looking ahead to the trip to Columbus. 

Indiana leads the all-time series with Ohio State 100-74, but the Buckeyes had won 6 straight in the series before the loss on 12/31. OSU leads 50-34 all-time vs. IU in Columbus, including the last 3. The last time the Buckeyes played at home against a top 10 team, they came out with fire in their eyes and smoked a very good Duke team 85-63. On that occasion, Ohio State was looking for respect. This time, they'll be looking for revenge.

4 A. Craft SO 6-2/190 8.1 3.2 5.2 G 1 J. Hulls JR 6-0/181 12.4 2.4 3.4
32 L. Smith Jr. SO 6-4/205 5.2 4.6 2.1 G 12 V. Jones III SR 6-5/195 8.2 3.0 3.5
44 W. Buford SR 6-6/220 15.4 4.6 3.4 F 4 V. Oladipo SO 6-5/214 11.3 5.4 1.6
1 D. Thomas SO 6-7/225 15.3 4.2 0.9 F 2 C. Watford JR 6-9/225 12.9 5.5 1.4
0 J. Sullinger SO 6-9/265 17.4 9.3 0.9 C 40 C. Zeller FR 6-11/230 14.7 6.5 1.1



Prior to losing against Tubby Smith's Gophers, Indiana was on a pretty good roll. Starting with the dramatic home win against Ohio State, the Hoosiers won 3 straight. They took down #13 Michigan at home before going on the road to secure an 88-82 victory over Penn State. In that game, IU hit a season-high 16 3-pointers, including 7 from PG Jordan Hulls. 

But there were also signs of trouble looming. Indiana turned it over 15 times against UM, then gave up another 16 against the Nittany Lions. The sloppiness continued in the loss to Minnesota, as IU turned it over 15 times against only 6 assists. Also, Indiana shot only 22% from beyond the arc, neutralizing their biggest advantage over opponents. IU shot poorly overall, but stayed in the game due to their usual excellent free throw shooting (22/25).

Solid defense was a characteristic of the Hoosiers' 15-1 start to the season, but it hasn't been as good lately. As John M. of the Crimson Quarry puts it:

Unfortunately, the defense has been very poor in Big Ten play. IU ranks #12 in the conference in defensive efficiency (in conference games only), is now in the black in turnovers, and is allowing opponents to shoot 55 percent from two point range.

IU will need to tighten it up quite a bit if they want to repeat the upset win they achieved back at Assembly Hall. Zeller still gives up 35 pounds to Sullinger, and so he'll need help to keep from being overwhelmed by the big man. Zeller had 23 against Minnesota, but IU's other front-court players contributed only 6 points collectively. On the plus side, reserve guard Will Sheehey returned from injury against Minnesota and contributed 12 points on 5/7 shooting (although he was 0/2 from distance). 

OSU is out for blood and IU needs to be ready or else they could be run out of the gym quickly as the Buckeye players feed off the crowd. If the Indiana players can keep their composure and move the ball around on offense without turning it over, they could stay in the game and position themselves for another upset win. Jordan Hulls will be under a lot of pressure as he faces steal-master Aaron Craft in a one-on-one battle at the point. Hulls was only 1/5 from distance against the Gophers, he had only 1 assist in the game, and he fouled out after playing only 30 minutes.

Buckeye Breakdown:

Ohio State has been something of an enigma on the road this season, but they have been nails at home. In their last 4 home games, the Buckeyes have outscored their opponents by an average of over 28 points, and no team has been within single digits of OSU in Columbus since they played Florida in the 2nd game of the season. The Schott can seem cavernous at times, but it will be rocking today as the loss to IU on 12/31 is still fresh in the minds of fans. 

Terry Gilliam / Associated PressThomas had 22 against IU at home last year.

The key for the Buckeyes will be defensive intensity early in the game, as they attempt to continue what Minnesota started on Thursday. Craft will need to stay tight on Hulls and Thomas will need to keep track of Watford all over the floor. It is absolutely essential that the Hoosiers do not get on an early roll from beyond the arc, and those two are the key players in terms of outside shooting.

Senior Verdell Jones III and Soph Victor Oladipo are adept at driving the ball to the hoop, and so OSU will need to stay in front of them and keep the drives to a minimum. In the first meeting, the Buckeyes got into early foul trouble because the IU players were quicker to the spot on offense. This will need to end in order to prevent an endless parade of Hoosier free throw attempts. IU averages 26 attempts per game and that is one of the reasons they are 9th in the nation in scoring.

OSU on offense will need to shoot well early, and will need a strong showing from Buford. OSU's lone senior starter has been particularly effective against the Hoosiers throughout his career, averaging over 18 points per game on 53% shooting against them. This is no time for WB to start 0/10 or something similar. He needs to provide that outside punch that the team needs to take the pressure off Sullilnger and Thomas, and he needs to do it sooner rather than later.

Speaking of Deshaun Thomas, he always has a little extra motivation going against his home-state team, and it showed last season in Columbus as he led the Buckeyes with 22 points. OSU will need his inside scoring, especially his clean-ups on misses by teammates, in order to complement Sullinger. In general, the team will need to play a clean game in terms of fouls and turnovers in order to make sure that every possession counts. If they do this, it will put a lot of pressure on IU's defense and force them to foul frequently in order to slow down Sully.


  • In the series, the Buckeyes are 5-8 in games when both teams are ranked.
  • Buford scored 15 points against Illinois, improving his career total to 1701, which is eighth all-time in Ohio State career scoring. He is 55 points behind Jay Burson (1,756) for seventh place.
  • CBS will broadcast the game and Buckeye legend Clark Kellogg will join Verne Lundquist for commentary. 

Comments Show All Comments

Northbrook's picture

Huge game. Who will step up to lead this team?

baddogmaine's picture

While it's correct to say that the Buckeyes have been nails at home that observation means a lot less when one looks at the quality of the competition. The fact is that the recent home schedule has been so light as to prove almost nothing (though the NW win probably is a bit better than it looks). There is a home/ away divide for most teams, but what seems more instructive in looking at the Buckeyes is how they have fared against good teams in general. We don't look so good through that lens. Even since the Duke game we have struggled against teams that were possibly our equals. Our stars have choked at the end of tight games. Those games were on the road but Buford and Craft have played on the road, and if we want to advance in March (or in the B1G) they and their teammates are going to have to play on the road again. What today will tell us is whether our struggles are (seemingly) road based or stress-based. If the former we'll cruise - and still need to figure out how to win away from Columbus. If the latter we will have to admit that we are not as good as Indiana and wait to see how far down the BiG pecking order we end up UNLESS the team doesn't like the sound of that and makes the commitment that apparently they have not made thus far to start working to earn respect that isn't going to just get handed to them.

I'm too much of a cynic to make a prediction. I am concerned that Paul was allowed to hit threes unchallenged, and IN is a much better 3-point shooting team than IL, with two guys Diebler-deadly from deep and several others very capable. IL played a 4-guard libeup and still held their own on the boards. IN is I think a little bigger but just as mobile. Thomas' defense was badly exposed against IN last time - what will happen today? And Buford's contributions have had too many negatives to this point in the season - I'm not sure that we can beat well-disciplined athletic opponents if Buford continues to lay bricks and play volleyball.

Vegas likes us by 12. Last game CBS was much less optimistic than Vegas and was right, this time their spead is like Vegas'. That number seems wrong to me - we either win by 20 (last year we lost in Madison and then totally obliterated the Badgers at home) or it goes down to the wire. Maybe 12 is the midpoint compromise because the predictors don't know which Buckeye team will show up either.

RB's picture

I've been looking forward to this game all week, I expect the Bucks to play at a very high level.  I  also have a feeling WB breaks out of his recent funk, shoots well and goes for over 20.  Its always a bonus to have Clark and Vern calling the game as well.  What a great Sunday, two divisional playoff games and a marque Bucks game.  Go Bucks.

O-H-I-Owe-U's picture

Shannon Scott is the only guy on the bench who can create and bring a different look to the offense. He needs minutes.

gravey's picture

Our team is still young and they play that way.  Craft is still starting for the first time this year, though he did get significant minutes last year.  Maybe last year's squad leaned much too heavily on their seniors to stay calm on the road.  WB should be playing that steady-ing role in road games, but perhaps it just isn't in him.  IU is pretty young as well, so thats good for us at home.  Luckily, it looks like the B1G is going to be tough for everyone on the road.  Go Bucks!  I think IU is the team I hate most in the B1G hoops...or Michigan...or Illinois... today it's IU.

rdubs's picture

Craft was a defacto starter last year.  Because Sullinger can't jump they put Dallas in to start and jump center.  Craft was basically sitting at the scorers table ready to go in at the first dead ball.

VestedInterest's picture

This will be a beat down. Assuming this isn't officiated like it was in Bloomington. Hightower isn't in town is he?

Rather_Be_Golfing's picture

I'm going and I agree.  Absolute focus = Beat Down.  We win by at least 15.  

If we don't, I will be shocked.  If you bet (not suggesting it), put it on the Buckeyes.

Go Bucks.

Rather_Be_Golfing's picture

I will go ahead and reply to my own comments.


I finally nailed one.  Went to game.  Our first half (effort) was the best of year, second only to the first half of Duke.  IU, who averages 81 points/game were completely shut down by the Bucks.  Really shows you what we can do when we try on every possession.


Second half we slacked off big-time.  Way too many open 3's given up.  Still do not understand why we trail every pick and the middle stays wide open.  Gotta kid that fixed.


Anyway, first half was a great environment and we showed ALL who we are.  When we play like that, there isn't a team in the big 1G that stays within 10 points of us.


Finally, I was spot on with my prediction. Hope it paid off for some of you.



Buckeye06's picture

I like what Thad has been doing getting 8 or 9 guys minutes at least.  Siebert, Weatherspoon, Ravenel are all getting quality minutes.

If those guys continue to learn the system, and our sophomores continue to improve, they should be fine.

We haven't gotten curbstomped like UNC did yesterday

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater's picture

I have been a huge proponent of the 8-9 man rotation.   Drove me nuts in previous years when we play 6 guys 34 miinutes each and no one else.  The wins were nice, but you always had the fear that we were wearing guys down, or if 2 guys got in foul trouble we were screwed because no one else had any game experience at all. 

blazers34's picture

This is really off topic:

Anyone on here living down in cincy---what happened to Big 10 Network On Demand??  I cant find it and I'm assuming they got rid of it and i missed it

miller2234's picture

Funny you mention this - i noticed it was off the other day too and called TW to see what was going on.  Of course she had no idea there was even a BTN on Demand and she said they have gotten rid of it.  Really hate time warner.  


TLB's picture

I hope this game is out of hound so I can catch some of he outdoor hockey.  (FSN at 5PM)

theDuke's picture

looking at the starting lineup, I don't believe for a single minute that buford weighs 220 pounds.  but that could explain why he's gotten so slow the last 2 years.