Tuesday Skull Session

By Sarah Hardy on January 15, 2013 at 6:00a

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Let's travel back in time for a minute, though not to the '50s or 1999.

Instead, let's remember where we were a week ago today, before the Ohio State men's basketball team won two straight games, before we were outraged over multiple Best Director Oscar snubs, before we missed Huey Lewis and the News singing the national anthem at the start of the 49ers-Packers game because we were too busy watching the Ravens and Broncos duke it out in double OT.

The hoops team was reeling after an embarrassing loss to Illinois, a game that Thad Matta viewed as an aberration rather than as a time to channel Chicken Little. As it turns out, the man who would later that night earn his 100th Big Ten win was right.

A win in the hellscape of West Lafayette, even if Purdue isn't in the top tier of the conference this season, was just the shot of confidence his squad needed to take down previously undefeated Michigan on Sunday.

Despite the apparent weaknesses of the team, it's not hard to be satisfied when Ohio State goes 2-0 for the week and not only hands the Wolverines their first loss, but also denies them the No. 1 spot in the polls.

I'm not even that miffed about the Buckeyes blowing their early lead because really good teams — which Michigan is and will most likely get better as their freshmen gain experience  — find a way to come back1. In the end, Ohio State pulled it out and got their first victory over a ranked opponent.

All season long, they've been more of a one-half team rather than a team that puts together a complete game. But last week, they showed a certain amount of resiliency and determination that we haven't really seen this season. 

Basketball can be sort of unpredictable, however. This team will probably continue to have its ups and downs, but I'm definitely going to enjoy the up weeks when they happen. 

THE BEST OFFENSE. While the Big Ten geeks wondered last week if Ohio State was even any good, this week they were much more reasoned in their assessment:

Through Ohio State’s first four games in conference play, it’s clear that this team does not have much on offense once you get past Deshaun Thomas... But that doesn’t mean that this Ohio State team is one to take lightly. None of the Big Ten opponents they’ve faced have scored over a point per possession. Even if this is a flawed offensive team, there’s no denying that there is some serious defense being played in Columbus.

John Beilein and Trey Burke can certainly attest to that. The lazy defense against Illinois was what infuriated me most about that game because as Aaron Craft would say, and Urban Meyer would approve, Ohio State's identity lies with the defense.

We'll probably have to deal with the "who's the second scorer going to be?" question the entire season, but as long as they play defense how they're capable of, especially in the defensive-minded B1G, it might not be as big of a concern as fans think it is. 

On the other hand, it's still important for other guys to step up on offense from time to time. Although Ohio State is currently No. 10 in Ken Pomeroy's ratings, he stresses that point:

This game didn’t change much about my opinion of either team. Michigan won’t be invincible on the road and Ohio State relies too much on Deshaun Thomas offensively.

But as we've seen at the beginning of conference season, Ohio State's success starts on defense.

WHERE WE'RE GOING WE DON'T NEED ROADS. Switching gears to football, let's head to the future with Adam Rittenberg as he looks at next season's schedules around the Big Ten. While Ohio State is expected to be the clear-cut favorite to win the conference, Rittenberg believes that the other top teams in the B1G should be able to take advantage of fairly manageable schedules.

Granted, it's not like many of them played the toughest schedules in 2012, but by and large, they should be even easier in 2013. 

Michigan doesn't face Alabama next season and also gets both Notre Dame and Ohio State at home, though they will have to travel to East Lansing in their other rivalry game.

Michigan State, losers of so many close contests this past season, will be looking to improve on their 7-6 record and helping their cause is the fact that they miss Ohio State and Wisconsin. 

The same goes for Nebraska, who will have to host UCLA in September and make a trip to Michigan later, but the Huskers will have a more favorable slate than in their first two seasons in the B1G.

Wisconsin actually plays two quality nonconference opponents; the Badgers will go on the road to Arizona State and then take on BYU at home. However, they avoid Michigan, Michigan State, and Nebraska in conference action — obviously, though, they have to visit the Horseshoe.

Then there's Northwestern, whose schedule is probably more difficult in '13 since they're the only one of the aforementioned teams who has to play the other five. 

Besides Ohio State, there aren't any other national championship contenders in the bunch, but after a bowl season that wasn't as bad as many feared it would be, the Big Ten should be able to rebound a little bit, at least record-wise, come fall. 

I'M MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE. As I'm sure many of you saw yesterday, Jim Delany admitted that the Big Ten is considering new names for the divisions in 2014 when Maryland and Rutgers officially come on board.

Though he remains noncommittal about whether Leaders and Legends will be retired and if the teams in each division will be split up differently, I have to think, if only for my own sanity, that change is coming. In the meantime, we can imagine the possible ways they will screw it up2:

"We have the opportunity to look at the divisional structure, branding, rivalries and geography all again," Delany said. "Depending on what we do will probably influence exactly how we brand it."

Delany claims not to be bothered by fans' continued rejection of the Leaders and Legends names, probably because he can console himself with BTN money. The ACC is trying to get in on that action and has expressed interest in starting their own network

But the ACC's media rights currently belong to ESPN, who would have to be involved in a potential network. Naturally, ESPN is about at a Tommy Lee Jones level of enthused at that idea.

You'd think some of the ACC schools might be afraid of a network. I mean, what if everyone who attends a Miami game just stays home to watch the game instead? Wait...

ROLL ME AWAY. Over the weekend, Michigan wasn't the only team to lose for the first time this season. NC State upset then-No.1 Duke and Wolfpack fans did what Deshaun Thomas wished Ohio State fans had done: they stormed the court. 

That included Will Privette, an NC State senior who has been in a wheelchair his whole life. Not wanting to miss out, Privette got the student body president to push him on the court, and in the frenzy, he ended up falling out of his wheelchair. 

Leslie YupLeslie: 25 points, 1 assist

Luckily, star basketball player C.J. Leslie, who scored a game-high 25 points that day, saw Privette on the ground and picked him up. As Privette told USA Today's Nicole Auerbach:

I patted him on the head and said, "Thank you." Then he put me in my chair, and the PNC Arena staff escorted me off the court to safety. After the game, I waited around for C.J. to say, "Thank you, thank you for helping -- saving my life, really."

It was the dumbest thing I've done in college but it was awesome.

Hey, "dumb but awesome" describes the actions of a lot of college students. But a sincere kudos to Leslie for being just the latter.

HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT. Last night, the Ohio State women's basketball team had to deal with the evil forces in West Lafayette when they took on No. 11 Purdue

Despite coming into the contest without a Big Ten win and missing their leading scorer, Tayler Hill, Ohio State managed to make a game out of it. With just a couple minutes left, the Buckeyes grabbed their first lead of the night on a three-pointer from Cait Craft, who started in place of the sick Hill. 

After the two teams went back and forth, the game went to OT and then double OT, where Ohio State grabbed a six-point lead. Unfortunately, Purdue channeled the West Lafayette demons and managed to come back to force a third OT, but the Lady Buckeyes were spent and lost, 82-75, falling to 0-4 in the B1G. Freshman Ameryst Alston was the top scorer for Ohio State with 24 points.

I ended up watching the game from the last few minutes of regulation to the final seconds, and as "female power!" as I felt after watching the Golden Globes — thanks to most of the laughs being delivered by women — I felt almost the exact opposite after this game. 

That's not a shot at the players themselves, who played their butts off. That's not even a criticism at all the missed bunnies I witnessed because I've certainly seen more than I'd like in Ohio State men's games3.

Instead, that's directed at the female refs, whose inability to know what constitutes as a jump ball potentially cost Ohio State a win three different times.

All in all, it was a frustrating game, though still a better option than The Bachelor or The Big Bang Theory/2 Broke Girls block that CBS was airing.

SILVER LINKINGS PLAYBOOK. Kerry Coombs on the recruiting trail!... Michigan flipped an Illinois commit from Ohio... A countdown of the top 100 football games of 2012... Where college football's best recruits come from in infographic form... RJ Umberger spent the lockout with Ohio State's hockey team... Air Bud has done it again... Funny things found in school textbooks... Thunderbolts and lightning.

  • 1 Heck, Minnesota pulled something similar against Indiana on Saturday in Bloomington, so it was hardly exclusive to Ohio State. 
  • 2 Delany will probably end up selling the naming rights to Dow AgroSciences. 
  • 3 Amir and his vapor hands.
View 29 Comments