In two previous games against the Illini this season, the trio of Turner, Lighty and Diebler have averaged 51 points per game. If they can do that again today, the Buckeyes will be playing in the final tomorrow.
But, knowing how hard it is to beat a team three times in one season, we're hunkering down for a battle and hoping for the best. Good thing we have The Villain.
The Buckeyes earned a spot in the conference tournament semi-finals thanks to a 69-68 thriller capped by Evan Turner's 37 footer at the buzzer overcoming an insane 22 point second half performance from Michigan's Manny Harris.
In case you're counting, that's 11 wins in the last 13 meetings against Michigan (h)oops.
Turning the page, Ohio State faces an Illinois squad that held off a furious Wisconsin rally to record a 58-54 upset win which almost assuredly puts the Illini in the dance regardless of what happens today. Still, with buddies Turner and Demetri McCamey ready to square off, neither team will phone it in.
Illinois took control early against Wisconsin jumping out to an 11-3 lead on their way to a 29-20 halftime edge buoyed by a strong defensive effort. The Illini D held the Badgers to 6/32 from the floor (19%) including an 0/8 doughnut for Trevon Hughes.
After a D.J. Richardson free throw gave Illinois a 50-38 lead at the 1:52 mark, Wisconsin peeled off a last ditch 16-6 run cutting the deficit to 56-54 with :33 remaining and they had three point shot to tie with :18 left but Jason Bohannon's effort was errant sealing the deal.
Mike Tisdale led Illy with 21 points, McCamey added 13 points, 8 boards and 5 dimes and Mike Davis had a 10/10 dub-dub as Bruce Weber's club shot 52% from the floor and 54% from deep (6/11) while holding Wisky to 29% overall.
During the regular season, Illinois finished in the middle of the pack for virtually every team stat.
Though the last second win over Michigan was fun in that it gave us one more opportunity to laugh at the folly known as Michigan Athletics, there's no denying OSU was a bit rusty having not played since March 2nd. The defensive intensity wavered at times no matter how much you have to tip your hat to Harris and the offense appeared out of sync for stretches especially when Turner forced the action in the second half prior to the game winner. More than that, Dallas Lauderdale was abused by DeShawn Sims early on and couldn't stay out of foul trouble (don't worry, we saw you, High(light)tower). It will take an improved effort from Lauderdale to beat Illinois for the third straight time though you have to hand it to Kyle Madsen. The senior filled in admirably once again scoring eight points in 24 minutes.
In the two regular season wins over Illinois, Jon Diebler averaged 19.5 points per on the strength of 52% (13/25) from downtown. Turner also had success averaging 16 points, 11.5 rips and 6.5 assists while David Lighty averaged 16 points on 67% from the floor (10/15). This bodes well for OSU as they are incredibly difficult to beat when three of the big four contribute offensively.
Defensively, OSU used a lot of 1-3-1 zone in the two matchups holding Illinois to 36% shooting (46/127) including a clankish 24% from distance (11/45). I would assume we'll see more of the 1-3-1 until Illinois shows they can generate points against it.
The Buckeyes are now 16-0 when they shoot at least 50%.
Diebler is just 11 points shy of 1,000 for his career.
OSU's 58.3% from deep was a B10 Tournament best for the program.
Any more questions about who should be the Player of the Year? I didn't think so. Evan Turner shook off a tough second half (2/9 FG, 4 TO) draining a 37 foot triple with less than a second left to give Ohio State a 69-68 win over Michigan this afternoon in the Big Ten tournament.
The shot solidified Turner's legend around these parts and was aided by the fact Michigan chose not to guard the inbounder (Lighty) even though OSU had just 2.2 seconds to work with and had to travel the length of the floor. The strategy allowed Turner to reach midcourt unmolested before he loaded up a jumper that kept OSU's conference post-season alive.
Despite Turner's heroics, it was far from a one man show today as four Buckeyes reached double figures. David Lighty complemented Turner's 18 points, eight boards and four dimes with 15 points (7/11) and five boards while Wil Buford overcame a slow start to add 15 points (6/13) and six boards. Jon Diebler was also a factor especially in the first half finishing with 11 points.
As we surmised, OSU came out flat at both ends and Michigan took advantage with an 11-2 run that took an 8-8 tie to a 19-10 Wolverine lead with 9:36 left in the half. The run saw the Buckeyes go on a six possession skid shooting 1/2 with four turnovers combined with slow transition defense and help side reaction to drives allowing buckets from marginal players like Zack Novak (2), Zack Gibson and Stu Douglass.
The light would come on in a big way over the final 9:36 as the Buckeyes woke up and unleashed fire and brimstone to the tune of a 25-6 run producing a 35-25 lead at intermission. The blitz featured a suffocating defensive surge that held Michigan to 3/9 from the floor with six turnovers (one a 10 second violation). The D helped ignite the offense as OSU caught fire hitting 9/13 field goals and 3/3 from the stripe with zero turnovers.
Diebler got it started with five straight points on a layup and a triple from the right wing before converting a conventional three point play five minutes later via a nifty lefty finish in the lane while drawing contact while Turner added five points and two dimes. Lighty (5 pts) and Kyle Madsen also came up big scoring four points in place of Dallas Lauderdale who was saddled with two fouls.
For the half, Turner paced the balanced attack with nine points (4/6) and five dimes followed by Diebler (3/5) with eight and Lighty's seven (3/4). The red hot Buckeyes shot 56% in the opening 20 minutes, assisting on nine of 14 buckets.
There was zero carryover of momentum from the closing burst as the second half saw Michigan use an 11-3 run behind three straight Douglass triples to cut the OSU to 42-38 before Lighty made his presence felt accounting for six straight points in what would become a 9-0 run building the lead back up to 51-38 with 10:28 left. Lighty's surge was comprised of a nice layup in traffic and another bunny off a putback of his own miss before a slick offensive rebound tip to Buford for a dunk following a missed three off the hands of Diebler.
Credit Michigan, however, as the Buckeyes simply couldn't put them away thanks to timely shots from Novak and Douglass along with the amazing performance of Manny Harris. The big time scorer was huge down the stretch scoring 20 points in the final 10 minutes but all it did was set up Turner for the amazing three pointer to win it as time expired. Unreal. What a great college basketball game.
Though some would argue it's of little consequence to lose early in the conference tournament if you are already firmly entrenched in the field of 65, you can bet Thad Matta's crew isn't subscribing to that logic. After reaching the clubhouse at 14-4 assuring themselves of at least a share of the regular season crown, OSU watched Sparty and Purdue win out and grab a share of the title. As a result, the Buckeyes view this weekend in Indy as a tiebreaker of sorts.
Beyond the bragging rights of being both regular and postseason conference champs, a sweep could mean a #1 Dance seed but that's still long enough odds to make Peter North blush. Syracuse fell to Georgetown last night however their resume still screams #1 seed meaning the Buckeyes would need help in the form of Friday losses from at least one, if not both Duke (vs. Virginia) and Kentucky (vs. Alabama).
Regardless, picking up a #1 seed really wouldn't mean much other than OSU would obviously be on a nice roll entering the Dance. My bottom line says grab at least a #2 then hope the bracket breaks in a way that presents favorable matchups avoiding teams with crazy size and/or extreme depth until the Elite Eight.
I digress. The first step to any of this is to do Michigan a favor and deliver the proverbial shot between the eyes that would euthanize their horrific season and the need for any more occurrences of having to witness the result of Beilein's obvious dressing in the dark. I guess the old adage rings true...You can take the wardrobially challenged out of West Virginia but you can't take the West Virginia out the wardrobially challenged. Wait. Nevermind.
The Wolverines started their post-season outlasting Iowa in a 59-52 win led by the usual suspects. Manny Harris put up 22 and 9 while DeShawn Sims added 14 on 6/13 from the floor. Michigan shot just 38% but committed only eight turnovers against the 10-22 Hawkeyes. Clearly the aggressors, TSUN hit a sharp 15/18 from the stripe as Iowa managed four trips to the line. The win improved Michigan to 2-4 in their last six outings.
As you know, this is predominantly a two man team that's largely competitive only when Harris and Sims have it going big time offensively. In conference play, UM is 10th in scoring offense (60.2), 9th in FG% (41%) and 10th in 3FG% (30%).
Aside from the big two, Michigan will hope for meaningful efforts beyond the arc from Stu Douglass and Zack Novak. If that doesn't happen, it's one and done.
Though the nine day layoff sounds like a dream come true for most fans that closely follow this 5.5 man team, I'm (as an admitted pessimist) wondering if the layoff will cause some rust early on. Of course, my typing that probably means they'll come out on fire but hey, I can live with that. Regardless of how they start, like you, I expect this team to finish strong and post a workmanlike win over a team with only two scorers.
Ohio State actually split the regular season matchups with Michigan benefiting from facing OSU sans The Villain back on January 3rd. The nine point loss was tough on the eyes as the Buckeyes surrendered an 11-0 run during a key four minute stretch late in the game after having actually taken a 55-54 lead with 6:40 left thanks to an 11-2 blitz of their own. Sims (28 and 9) and Harris (24 and 7) flat out took over against the offensively challenged Buckeyes in this early tilt.
OSU would get revenge in the late February rematch handling the Wolverines 66-55 behind 24 and 9 from Wil Buford and and 18, 11 and 7 from Turner. It wasn't pretty but it was enough as the Buckeyes held Michigan to 36% from the floor while winning the glass 35-20.
Obvious keys to this one will be keeping Sims and Harris somewhat in check while completely shutting down the rest of the Maize and Blue combined with limiting any rust associated with the lengthy layoff. As usual, a win would be helped by one of the Lighty/Diebler combo chipping in to help Turner and WB pace the attack. It will also be interesting to see the defense can create some turnovers after having very little luck in the first two matchups (15 total).
Matta has won three of OSU's eight B10 Coach of the Year awards (O'Brien '99, '01, Ayres '91, '92, Miller '83)
Turner is the fifth Buckeye to win league POY honors (Dials '06, Penn '99, Jackson '91, '92, Hopson '87)
OSU is 3-0 all time versus Michigan in the B10 tournament
With a win, OSU faces the winner of Wisconsin/Illinois at 1:40pm Saturday on CBS.
If you are into mediocre, yet desperate basketball, you're in luck this afternoon as the bottom-feeders of the conference kick-off the 2010 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament.
First up, and of special interest to Buckeye fans is #8 Michigan and #9 Iowa, tipping off on ESPN2 at 2:30PM ET. The Wolverines swept the season series, winning large at home and by two in Iowa City three weeks ago.
#7 Northwestern and #10 Indiana take the court 25 minutes after the conclusion of the first game in a rematch of the season finale won by the Hoosiers in Bloomington. The Wildcats are 19-12 and will need a tournament championship to lift the stigma of being the only BCS conference member never to have made the NCAA tournament. Bet they'd like to have back the losses to Penn State (twice!), Iowa and Indiana right about now.
Finally, in the nightcap slot, #6 Minnesota takes on #11 Penn State at 7:30PM ET on the Big Ten Network. The Gophers swept the season series, winning by less than five each time, so this one could go either way -- especially with the Nittany Lions showing some signs of life on the basketball court after that 0-12 conference start.
Remember kids, watching awful basketball is traumatizing. Your support group is here.
When we last left you, Jared Sullinger was a National Player of the Year waiting to happen. That happened. The Villain is undoubtedly up next, but other than that, Thursday on paper, is looking to be a pretty slow news day as we collectively coast until Friday at noon. That doesn't mean the idle time can't be spent reviewing what you missed during the first 3/5 of the work week and preparing for what lies ahead.
The Bucks will draw either 8th seeded Michigan or 9th seeded Iowa Friday at noon (plan for a long lunch now, or if you're really a rockstar, call in sick and make the drive to Indy). To scout out the opposition, set your Slingboxes or fire up ESPN360 and take in the opening game of the Big Ten Tourney at 2:30 (those afflicted by the economy or still lucky enough to be studying something can check out the affair in stunning high definition on ESPN2HD). Game reactions can undoubtedly be found as the game unfolds over at the Hippie's Digital Tree Fort or over deep in the asylum of BHGP (kids: ask your parents for permission to disable NetNanny before wondering over yonder).
All your Gold wrestling tights are belong to us (for at least 24 more hours until Brent Metcalf redeems himself in the most super human fashion possible) RossWB has your NCAA wrestling (and culinary) brackets needs taken care of. Giant killer Lance Palmer will have absolutely no time to dwell on his newfound super powers, as he enters the championships as a #1 seed. Joining him in the meet are Nikko Triggas, Ian Paddock, four seeded Reece Humphrey, fifth seeded Colt Sponseller, Dave Rella, ten seed Mike Pucillo, and C.J. Magrum. Check out either of the previous two links for more comprehensive matchup field information. Best of luck to all the gentlemen in Omaha.
Blades of not awfulness Mazel tov to Ohio State forward Zac Dalpe on his naming to the 2009-10 All CCHA All-Conference First Team. The sophomore (whose NHL draft rights are held by the Carolina Hurricanes) improved upon a 13-goal, 25 point freshman year putting up 20 goals and 40 points and has been a critical cog in keeping Ohio State's post season hopes alive. Ohio State's season faces an uphill challenge traveling to No. 1/2 Miami this weekend for a best of 3 quarterfinals. Despite some murmurs that coach John Murkel's job security may be in question, the Bucks keep surviving and advancing after sweeping Notre Dame in a best of 3 series a week prior.
The rest: The recently operated on The Shark dropped his must read farewell to his playing days, his most stirring, honest (and serious) post to date. Drop by and thank him for everything he's done for the university and community (and certainly for entertaining us all as well). This NYT article from December discusses the value of the NBC contract (~$15 mil) relative to the Weis buyout ($18 mil.) and ND's willingness to stay steadfast/independent; flash forward to the present, and the Irish could be singing a far different tune. Finally, don't even try to argue: all black penguins are awesome.
Deshaun Thomas brings his elite game to Columbus next season (photo/ESPNRise)
Since he has become the head coach of the Ohio State basketball team, Thad Matta has done a tremendous job on the court. A big part of that success has come through his ability to recruit elite talent which has come in the form of star players such as Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Daequan Cook, David Lighty, Evan Turner, Kosta Koufos, and others who have contributed to the three Big Ten titles the Bucks have won in the past five years. As good as those players have been, no class as whole may be as good as the recruiting class of 2010 that Thad and staff are brining in next year.
The six man class, referred to as "The Super Six" include some of the nation's top players including in-town product Jared Sullinger, who is rated amongst the top three players in the class by virtually all recruiting services. Sullinger was named a McDonald's All-American last month, but was not alone, as his recruiting classmate and fellow top-ranked stud, Deshaun Thomas of Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, will be joining him in Columbus later this month for high school basketball's greatest honor.
Thomas is an absolute freak of an athlete who is currently averaging over 30 points per game in his senior season and stands second on the all-time scoring list in Indiana, scoring more points in his amateur career than Hoosier-state legend, Larry Bird. Thomas is a prototypical scorer who has great strength on the inside and can also come outside with a smooth jump shot. On defense his size and athleticism allow him to guard a number of different positions, which should be valuable to the versatile players he will face in the Big Ten. He is a candidate to start right away and some say he may produce so well for the Bucks next year that he becomes the next "one-and-done" player to grace the Value City Arena court.
We caught up with Deshaun to discuss the latest in his senior season, the rumors about him being "one-and-done", his feelings on playing in the McDonald's game and more.
What's going on currently with your senior season? Where do you guys stand in the state playoffs? How do you feel your individual performance has been this season?
Well we just won the sectional championship. My game is good and I mean we are winning [which is what matters] and the points are there.
We saw you when you played Northland in Columbus. Are you excited for your return trip for the McDonald's game when you actually get to play with Jared instead of against him?
Yeah, I'm happy to play again on campus at Ohio State. I think we put on a show for the Buckeye fans back when we played Northland, but now people get to see me and Jared play together at the McDonald's game. It's going to be interesting.
Why did you choose OSU as the place you wanted to play your college basketball?
I picked Ohio State because of the great coach they have and the players that have been drafted from there. All in all, it's a wonderful place.
There have been rumblings in the past you want to be one-and-done. Is this your plan or are you just going to see how things play out and take it step by step?
My thing is to play to the best of my ability and then see what happens from there.
Is it important to you to start immediately when you get to Columbus or would you be OK with coming off the bench?
My mind set is to go there and start, but hey, if coach needs me to come off the bench, then I will do what it takes to help the team.
What do you feel is your greatest strength as a player?
Well I feel my strengths are that I play hard, hit big shots when they are needed, and play as a teammate.
Who are you closest to in the recruiting class?
I'm closest with Jared [Sullinger] and JD [Weatherspoon].
Who is the best player you have ever played against?
The best player I've played against is Harrison Barnes [of Ames, Iowa who is going to UNC].
If you could tell Buckeye Nation one thing, what would it be?
That I'm doing whatever it takes to keep them happy and win basketball games for Ohio State.
Here is a video of Deshaun after they played Northland at the Schottenstein Center:
Here is a video of Thomas dunking against Northland:
Here is a nice pick-and-roll basket by Deshaun in the Northland game:
I mentioned Monday that it was essentially an afterthought that Evan Turner would be walking away with virtually all player of the year statuettes in the next several weeks. Now the question becomes will Ohio State's all everything wunderrecruit Jared Sullinger be able to match E.T.'s feat? Sullinger is nominated for both the McDonald's All-America Player of the Year honor as well as the Naismith Award for outstanding high school player in the country.
The Dispatch's Bob Baptist (BOOM) raised a fairly thought provoking question yesterday afternoon as well, could we be seeing the first instance of one (albeit high school level) player of the year replacing another? The McDonald's award has but 13 years of history, where as the Naismith only goes back 23 years. Regardless of which barometer you used to outline the situation, the fact remains the same: never before has one institution replaced a collegiate national player of the year with a high school version. Now we don't want to jump to conclusions or anything; Sully's competition includes all-everything Brandon Knight (who's being recruited by essentially every "it" program in college hoops for his one year of service) who's the defending national player of the year for the McDonald's award. The two couldn't be more different as players, so at this point the vote shakedown could really only logically come down to the personal preferences of the respective voters..
The positive buzz surrounding Sullinger can't certainly hurt his case, as the little brother of former Buckeyes starter J.J. will be entering Columbus as the most decorated non-football athlete to make his way to campus since a certain Mr. Oden. For those wondering what the younger Sully will bring to the table, DraftExpress and a few other notable scouting services compare Sullinger at this point in his development to the later stages of a few other notable big men who could also step out 12-18 feet and stroke one, including former Maryland Terrapin national champion role player Lonny Baxter, former all-SEC forward/Alabama alum Richard Hendrix, and more notably/contemporarily Kevin Love of UCLA/the NBA's Timberwolves. Sullinger's court IQ from the few nationally televised apparences I've had a chance to check him out in was the most notable part of the game. Unlike many 18-year old big men entering the college game, his already developed mid-range jumper coupled with an uncanny, natural feel for what was happening around him at all times could amount to truly Villanous point totals at an early stage in his career in the scarlet & grey. To add a visual to the gushing praise, check it out after the jump:
The silky smooth touch coupled with a natural eye for making things happen should make this kid an absolute joy to follow for however long we're all lucky to watch him dunk all over hapless opponents in Value City Arena. If that wasn't enough to gush over, the kid knows what would bring college hoops in C-Bus to a never before seen fever pitch. Having a little politician in a young, budding superstar never hurt anyone. The kid's also off to an interesting start in the twittersphere, after slipping this out earlier this afternoon (which has since been deleted) and could very well be a clue to some possible inside information as to how he'll fair in the aforementioned national player of the year sweepstakes:
Wow good news good news... Can't wait till Wednesday u knw what im on @MrOH1O and @Jules_Sully
@MrOH10 and @Jules_Sully representing older siblings former Buckeye J.J. and former Kent State Golden Flash Julian Sullinger respectively, who certainly would be in a privileged position to a know a thing or two about their kid brother. It should be interesting to see if perhaps the younger Sullinger let a gem slip that could bring the program Thad Matta's turned from a long time second class citizen on campus to something on the up and up a unique first of its kind, with a national player of the year up Matta's sleeve just in case the one already in town decides to take his skills to their next logical destination.
“Marcus is a little bit down on himself because he knows that wasn’t a good representation of himself,” left tackle Jack Mewhort said. “He knows he did wrong. He’s usually an upbeat guy, but he knows he messed up.”
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