Sports Today: Buckeyes blasted while big opportunity comes for Wright State


For the second time this season, Penn State basketball made Ohio State basketball look bad

This is a strange sentence anytime but particularly so this season of resurgence for the Buckeyes. 

That’s not to say Penn State is not a quality team. The Nittany Lions should make the NCAA tournament if they can win just another game or two between now and Selection Sunday. 

Ohio State has just been that good since the start of the Big Ten season. 

The question now is if they will be that good again. 

RELATED: 11 players who could be the next Ohio State recruit from Southwest Ohio

Was this one game, or the sign of things to come? 

To be honest, I’ve been waiting for the bubble to burst for this team. It’s a feel-great story, but how long can it really last? 

Not long at all if they get only 10 points from Keita Bates-Diop, but maybe last night was just a blip. 

C.J. Jackson playing well in the second half might be a more important positive indicator than anything else for Ohio State, although he only had one assist. 

  

The Nittany Lions locked up the Buckeyes’ offense, making it hard for Bates-Diop to get the ball where he wanted it and eliminating what was working inside early for Jae’Sean Tate and Kaleb Wesson. 

Of course, Chris Holtmann’s team has already shaken off one loss to the Nittany Lions this season. 

This one will be tougher if for no other reason than next on the docket is a trip to Michigan on Sunday. 

The Wolverines are a spot ahead of the Nittany Lions in KenPom.com ratings but have a better coach and a better home-court environment. 

They will have revenge on their minds, too. 

Ohio State is still in a first-place tie with Michigan State but probably can’t afford another loss because of the Spartans’ weak remaining schedule. 

Of course, Purdue was supposed to win at Wisconsin last night but did not. (MSU finishes the regular season in Madison.)… 

The fifth-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats also lost Thursday night. 

The 67-62 setback at Houston is the first conference defeat of the year for Mick Cronin’s crew. 

Maybe that whole thing about our state being college basketball’s dominant force was premature? 

Well, Xavier won Wednesday night, and the Musketeers get another shot at Villanova on Saturday. 

Given how those have tended to go, we might be looking at the top three teams in the state all having lost their most recent game… 

Tonight the biggest basketball game in the state and arguably the country will be played at the Nutter Center as Wright State plays host to Northern Kentucky. 

The Raiders can not only move back into a first-place tie in the Horizon League with a win but complete a season sweep of the Norse. 

Coach Scott Nagy’s club wasn’t supposed to win at NKU but did pull off that upset. They’re a slight underdog this time around, but perhaps that will provide some extra motivation. 

These teams have a nearly identical RPI, but NKU is 50 spots higher in the KenPom rankings at No. 87. 

Wright State’s challenge will be conjuring up enough offense as the Raiders have proven to be a strong defensive team in Nagy’s second season at the helm… 

Dayton welcomes Fordham to town Saturday night. 

UD Arena is sold-out for its Hall of Fame Game, but the Flyers are reeling. 

Fordham provides a good chance to stop the bleeding of a three-game losing streak. 

Any guesses on how playing time will be distributed for the Flyers? 

Me neither… 

With the way this season is going, it’s OK to go ahead and start daydreaming about the next one. 

One of the players who could do quite a bit to prevent 2019 from ending up like 2018 is Obadiah Toppin

He was a late-bloomer who joined Dayton’s class after Anthony Grant was hired. 

While he is sitting out this season as an academic redshirt, he’s got an intriguing mix of size and athleticism. 

Meanwhile, are the big boys who have probably been cheating for years about to get theirs? 

Yahoo! Sports reports the day (or more likely days) of reckoning is coming for those schools who have players and coaches involved in the FBI’s investigation of how agents and shoe company reps control college basketball recruiting. 

Take all this with a grain of salt because it’s mostly coming via anonymous sources who won’t face any repercussions if they are lying, but Pete Thamel does a good job of making this all sound very ominous. 

“This goes a lot deeper in college basketball than four corrupt assistant coaches,” said a source who has been briefed on the details of the case. “When this all comes out, Hall of Fame coaches should be scared, lottery picks won’t be eligible to play and almost half of the 16 teams the NCAA showed on its initial NCAA tournament show this weekend should worry about their appearance being vacated.”

This season’s big three in Ohio were all in that initial top 16, though so far there has been no public indication Ohio State, UC or Xavier are involved. 

The group also includes blue bloods Kansas, Duke, North Carolina and Michigan State while two more — Arizona and Auburn — already have assistants who have been indicted as a result of the investigation. 

One of my initial reactions when news of this case broke last fall was that we could be in line for a wild NCAA tournament if some of the top programs have to sit it out. 

The opportunity for mid-majors could be unprecedented. 

Maybe that will have to wait until next year, but I am curious to know if the NCAA has investigators proactively trying to weed out any of these offenders ahead of Selection Sunday 2018. 


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