#5 Ohio State vs. #7 Indiana: Sunday Thoughts
Sunday's a quiet day with regards to the number of games on the college basketball schedule, but there's a critical matchup of Top 10 teams in Columbus as #7 Indiana (15-2, 3-2) visits. #5 Ohio State (15-3, 3-2) in their second meeting of the season. The Hoosiers won the first meeting 74-70 back on New Year's Eve, and a big reason why was the way in which they defended point guard Aaron Craft. Tom Crean threw multiple guys at the sophomore point guard, and the varying looks were a big reason why Craft turned the ball over a season-high six times.
Be it Jordan Hulls, Verdell Jones III or Victor Oladipo, the Hoosiers made things difficult for Craft and by extension the Ohio State offense as a whole. William Buford shot 3-for-7 from the field and scored eight points, and also of note in this contest is that Craft attempted the most shots (ten) for the Buckeyes. Jared Sullinger and Cody Zeller essentially canceled each other out with foul trouble for both being an issue for much of the game (Sullinger: 3-5, 15 points and nine rebounds; Zeller: 5-9, 14 points and four rebounds).
From an efficiency standpoint that was Ohio State's worst game of the Big Ten slate thus far, as they averaged exactly one point per possession. Indiana's been the more efficient team when looking at the numbers throughout the season, and they're going to need that to be the case again today if they're to have any shot of winning at Value City Arena. If the Hoosiers can get another good outing from Hulls and Oladipo (combined to score 32 points in the first meeting) they can win, but the return meeting will be an entirely different animal based on how Ohio State played against the two teams they lost to on the road last season.
Ohio State's 87-64 win over Purdue was actually the first meeting of two last season, with E'Twaun Moore going off in the return contest in West Lafayette, so it's likely better to use OSU's rematch with Wisconsin as the example. After losing in Madison 71-67 on February 12, the Buckeyes went off in the March 6 meeting, knocking down 14 of 15 from beyond the arc on their way to the 93-65 victory. Without a Jon Diebler on this year's team that kind of marksmanship is unlikely to happen, but when motivated by the sting of a road defeat Thad Matta's team is extremely difficult to beat.
Also of note: Both Minnesota and Wisconsin have games that they'll be expected to win, and both will need to win for the sake of their respective resumes. The Golden Gophers take on Penn State in Happy Valley and will need to keep Tim Frazier in check, and the Badgers host a Nebraska team that features Bo Spencer. Bo Ryan's team whipped the Huskers in Lincoln in Nebraska's first-ever league game as a Big Ten member, so at the least Doc Sadler's team should have a better feel for the Badgers' style of basketball.
Duke visits Clemson in what could be a trickier game than many will expect, with the Tigers' play at Littlejohn Coliseum being a big reason why. The Tigers, who blew out Florida State at home in their ACC opener, need Devin Booker and Milton Jennings to play well if they're to have a shot at beating Duke. Maryland could use a win to establish themselves as a top-half of the ACC squad, and if they can keep Georgia Tech's Glen Rice Jr. in check the Terps can get it done. Sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin has been one of the league's best scorers to this point in the season, but to be a truly elite player he has to raise his level on the defensive end.
Big games in the MAAC, MVC: The two teams tied for first place in the Metro Atlantic meet in New Rochelle as Iona host Loyola (MD). The Gaels fell to a surprising Manhattan team on Thursday night on an Emmy Andujar three as time expired while the Greyhounds came back to win at Fairfield despite trailing by as many as 17 in the second half. Robert Olson got hot late for Jimmy Patsos' team and in Dylon Cormier the Greyhounds have one of the best players in the league, which should make for an entertaining battle between he and Scott Machado. The Gaels did the exact opposite of Loyola on Thursday, taking their foot off the gas with a 17-point late with less than eight minutes remaining.
And while Wichita State's trip to Terre Haute isn't a matchup of teams atop the Missouri Valley, simply put the Sycamores need the win to avoid dropping to 2-5 in league play. Joe Ragland's played well on the perimeter and Toure Murry is arguably the MVC's best sixth man, but it's been the recent play of center Garrett Stutz that's made the difference for Gregg Marshall's team. Dwayne Lathan and Jake Odum have led the way for Indiana State but the bigger issue has been their defense, as opponents shoot 43.7% from the field. They'll likely need to hold the Shockers to below 40% if they're to win tonight.