I can't tell you why, I'm just that good.
Opponent: Iowa is still reeling from the Steve Alford experiment gone bad, but first year coach Todd Lickliter has coached and worked with Thad in years past, so it could be another Iowa/Ohio State barnburner.
The Hawkeyes have played two ranked teams all season, Indiana and Wisconsin, and have also lost to Bradley, Iowa State, Drake, Louisana-Monroe, Utah State and Wake Forest. This group does not score much, coming in at 58.5 points a game, while shooting just 43 percent from the floor. Lickliter only has 11 players at his disposal and most of them will see action.
I'm sure Lickliter and Matta come from the same defensive philosophy, as Iowa's opponent are shooting just 39 percent from the floor and 32 percent from the arc. With the lousy competition Iowa has faced this year they do have a positive rebounding margin, at 3.5, but they also have a negative assists (13/game) to turnover (16.7/game) ratio.
Before playing last Saturday at Wisconsin, Iowa had not left their own state to play a game since Thanksgiving, so they might have some jet lag from their long cross midwest flight. Iowa does shoot 37 percent from downtown, so any type of UMBC three point barrage could keep them around for a bit, but in the end Ohio State will have too much offense.
Key Players: Iowa is lead by Justin Johnson (#24 6'6" Sr.), who comes in scoring 15.5 points a game and has made more three pointers than the rest of his teammates combined. In Iowa's Big Ten opener against Indiana, Johnson scored 19 points, including six threeballs, in the final two minutes. He has made 54 of 136 three pointers on the year, so he will roam the open pockets in Ohio State's zone and might get 10 attempts from there tonight.
Johnson has been helped recently by Tony Freeman (#11 6'1" Jr.) who started playing 6 games ago and is averaging 11.8 points. He will also look to shoot it from deep as more than half of his 50 attempts have been from there, connecting on 11 of them.
The next 7 players on Iowa's roster are averaging between 4.4 and 6.7 points a game and play at least 14 minutes and I see no point in exploring their individual season trend(s). Only one of them, Jake Kelly (#32 6'6" Fr.) has scored 100 or more points and Kurt Looby (#52 6'10" Sr.) leads them in rebounding at 6.5 a game.
Notes: Todd Lickliter was an assistant coach during Thad's junior year at Butler and then returned to become Thad's assistant at Butler in 2000-2001, getting the job when Thad left for Xavier... Iowa's 6'7" Freshman Jarrod Croyle tore an ACL and is out for the year, he was averaging 6.6 points and 5 boards... Iowa holds a 74-65 lead in the all time series.
Buckeye Breakdown: The best remedy for last year's BCS Championship game debacle was Thad's hoops team, their run took some of the sting away, but unfortunately that sting is back and Buckeye Nation can now turn their focus to watching another coaching gem turned in by Thad.
Ohio State has worked the kinks out of their systems and should be able to dispose of Iowa tonight for their 19th straight conference victory, while looking for their first 3-0 conference start since 1991. Thad has his boys settled into their respective roles and the long scoring droughts seems to be a thing of the past, as multiple players have stepped up in the scoring department.
Ohio State is still in the middle pack of Big Ten teams for scoring offense and defense, but they do lead the conference in opponent FG percentage at 37.3 and rank second in 3point shooting at 38.4 percent. While there are plenty of aspects to work on, mainly rebounding and turnovers, this team is showing tremendous improvement and Thad should have his team in the upper tier of the conference, once again proving to be a great remedy for recent football wounds.
Key Players: If you have been watching Buckeye basketball in between cramming for the BCS game, you know any one of 6 players could lead OSU in scoring on any given night (I know Lighty is borderline), making Ohio State hard to defend as the season rolls on. It came out yesterday Butler started coming down with the flu in the second half against Northwestern, partially explaining his 0-fer in the scoring department.
Being the Lima warrior though, he decided not force his shot and instead recorded the first ever Ohio State double-double that didn't involve points, getting 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Jamar got jobbed on last week's Big Ten POW, but has started off conference play with 32 points, 17 assists and 16 rebounds in two games.
Ohio State's freshmen carried them in Sunday's game against Northwestern and Diebler, Turner and Koufos have really impressed lately. We all knew it was a matter of time before Diebler got his stroke back and he may not have another Buckeye game in which he scores less than 3 long balls. His range really helps open up the driving lanes for Turner. Evan will learn to control the turnovers, but I love his aggressiveness towards the hoop and his ability not to force his shot.
Othello Hunter is sometimes the forgotten man in this offense, but still manages to score over 9 a game. He has hit 26 of his last 41 shots and threw down two highlight reel alley-oops on Sunday. Hunter has scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the two conference games.
I think we may expect too much scoring from David Lighty, but he also has to stop the turnovers. He continues to play defense and do the little things, but at time he looks like a 5th grader in a remedial church league dribbling above his head. Dallas Lauderdale is starting to push a little bit for some more PT.
Notes: Thad Matta is coaching in his 250th game... Northwestern was Ohio State's tenth opponent to shoot less than 40 percent against the Bucks... Koufos has a double-double in 3 of his last 4 games... Ohio State received votes in both rankings this week