OPPONENT: Indiana might be a tired team after their double overtime thriller against a "hostile" Illinois team Thursday night. The Hoosiers have lost only three games, but their body of work is not that impressive. Yes, they have lost to UConn, @Wisconsin and Xavier, but their best win is against Illinois State? They play 6 of their next 7 games against the top half of the Big Ten, so their true colors will shine through in the next couple of weeks.
Indiana is the top scoring team in the Big Ten at almost 71 points per game and are virtually tied with OSU for third in overall shooting with 45.6 percent. Indiana shoots 35.1 percent from deep and 74 percent from the line, while averaging 14 assists and 12 turnovers.
I have seen Indiana a few times and notice they do a lot of one on one. They have the top two scorers in the conference, but only play about 6 or 7 guys. There is no doubt they have 2-4 players that could have big games, but I think Ohio State's 3/4 court pressure and swarming zone defense will limit the Hoosiers offense, especially with their lack of preparation time.
KEY PLAYERS: Eric Gordon is the top scorer within the conference at 21.6 points a game. The 6'4" freshman is one of the best players Ohio State will face all season, but he showed Thursday night that a little physical play may throw him off. Gordon's best attribute is getting to the line. He has made 37 more free throws (141) than any other conference player and hits them at an 85 percent clip.
D.J. White is the second leading scorer in the conference at 17.5 points per game. The 6'9" senior leads the conference in rebounding and FG percentage at 10.6 and 62.7 respectively. White is a veteran of conference play, but is not the best of jumpers, so if Hunter can get position on him he should be able to change a few shots.
Armon Bassett and Jordan Crawford are the other two Hoosiers who average double figures. Bassett is a 6'1" sophomore who will launch the three and leads the conference in 3point shooting (48%). He is coming off a 16 point, 7 rebound effort against Illinois.
Crawford will look to shot more from within 2 point range. He is scoring 10.6 per game, but only 51 of his 167 shots have come from outside. He averages 2 assists and 2 turnovers per game, so any type of pressure will cause some youthful turnovers.
Jamarcus Ellis and Lance Stemler will fill in the other playing roles. Ellis is playing over 32 minutes a game, but only scores 7.5 points and grabs 7.7 boards. The 6'5" junior is not a very good shooter at 41 percent. Stemler is the token white boy, scoring five points a game, while also shooting 41 percent.
NOTES: Indiana leads the all time series 97-68... Indiana has lost their last four games in Columbus when they are ranked... Kelvin Sampson is dirty... Indiana has played two ranked teams, Southern Illinois and Wisconsin... Check out the Hoosier Report for a closer look at thy enemy.
BUCKEYE BREAKDOWN: OSU will look to knock off the second ranked opponent this season, going 1-5 thus far with their only win coming against Syracuse in November. Ohio State looked like a true team in the second half against Michigan and will need another complete team effort in order to take down Indiana.
Ohio State stills leads the conference in defensive FG and 3point FG percentage, at 37.4 and 30.1 respectively. They will need to keep the zone flowing and force Indiana into bad shots from the perimeter. The inside has been a weak spot at times this year and D.J. White will be ready to expose it if allowed.
It is no secret Ohio State has trouble making post entry passes, but it will be critical for them to at least try. I believe it was at least 8 minutes into the Michigan game before we saw an attempt inside and OSU needs to go right at D.J. White to get him in foul trouble. Kosta showed some emotion last game and needs an early opportunity to build upon it.
Ohio State put five players in double digits Tuesday night for the fourth time this year and first within conference play. This needs to continue Sunday with a energetic start against a possible road weary Hoosiers team. Catching early momentum is going to be a key element.
KEY PLAYERS: Jamar will have a great chance against a young Hoosier back court, to prove he is a legit POY candidate. He had harsh words for his teammates after the Iowa loss and will need to get this team jump started from the opening tip.
Othello Hunter is also going to be key for the Buckeyes, but again his teammates have to give him the opportunity. Hunter is shooting almost 62 percent within conference play and ranks second within the conference for the season at 57 percent. He is coming off a 15 point, 12 rebound effort and should have a decisive jumping ability against D.J. White, giving him the chance for another all-conference performance.
After leading the Buckeye freshmen for a few games, Evan Turner has fallen off the last couple of games. He didn't see the floor for the last 18:30 minutes against Michigan and in his last three games he has hit 3 of 15 shots, to go along with 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 9 turnovers.
As mentioned, Kosta Koufos showed some emotion last game and will have another height advantage in the lane tomorrow. Koufos has scored in double digits for six consecutive games, but hasn't had 10 or more rebounds in the last nine. He has only 3 free throw attempts in the last three games (all last game).
Ohio State's season is going to come down to the scoring of David Lighty and Jon Diebler. IMO, these two are the prettiest shooters on the team and have the capabilities of scoring double digits any night, but have yet to show it on a regular basis. We can only hope these two peak over the next month or so.
NOTES: Thad Matta is going for his 200th career victory, 98th at Ohio State, going 199-60 in his 8 seasons... Ohio State is fifth nationally in defensive FG percentage (36.8) and fouls per game (14)... Ohio State will play in front of their 6th "sell-out" crowd of the season... Ohio State has had 20 or more points off the bench only three time this season...