- Marcus Hartman
All good things must come to an end. Such as it is for Ohio State’s perfect start to Big Ten play.
The Buckeyes lost to Penn State last night mostly because the Nittany Lions got into a groove and had long stretches in which they practically could not miss.
They still needed a miracle shot to win at the buzzer.
(Yes, the officiating was horrible, but that’s college basketball.)
Meanwhile, Purdue beat Michigan again to take about as commanding a one-game lead as a team can have at this point in the conference race.
The Boilermakers already beat the Wolverines twice, so they have three big games left: At Indiana on Sunday, home against Ohio State on Feb. 7 and at Michigan State on Feb. 10.
(Archie Miller’s Hoosiers are just so-so, but that’s a rivalry game in Bloomington so all bets are off.)
Ohio State has to play at Purdue and at Michigan, not to mention two games against Indiana and a rematch against the Nittany Lions at Penn State.
The Buckeyes should be able to secure a top four finish, but the Big Ten sure looks like Purdue’s to lose if they just split with OSU and MSU (who already lost twice).
How the rest of the second half of the conference season plays out will tell us a lot about Ohio State.
This is not a great team, but of course that contributes to what a feel-good story it has become.
Keita Bates-Diop is an NBA player — as expected when he signed five years ago.
Jae’Sean Tate is a top-flight role player — also as expected when he arrived on campus, except he’s actually delivered when he’s been healthy.
Kam Williams is also finally starting to realize his potential while a bunch of young guys fill in the gaps, so how long this team remains a contender for, say, one of the top 16 seeds in the NCAA tournament will probably be determined by C.J. Jackson.
If he is steady and this team maintains the strong level of team defense it has shown so far, the rest of the way should still be pretty fun…
Meanwhile, the Ohio State women’s team is in a free fall.
Iowa dropped 103 points on OSU in Iowa City last night, sending the Buckeyes to their third straight loss.
Beginning with the second half of a loss at home to Michigan on Jan. 16, Ohio State has played virtually no defense.
That area has generally ranked behind the offense since McGuff got to Columbus, but it seemed to be less of an issue during the first half of this season.
The Buckeyes have one of the game’s all-time great talents in point guard Kelsey Mitchell, but they don’t have much depth so they have to be pretty mentally tough to maintain top effort.
A rough stretch of the schedule concludes Saturday with a noon visit from always-tough Michigan State…
Wright State is back on the floor tonight after the Raiders suffered their first Horizon League loss earlier this week.
Jay Morrison writes the first thing the Wright State players did as a team after having their eight-game winning streak snapped Saturday at Milwaukee was sit down and watch a horror flick.
“They gave us Sunday off and then we came in Monday and watched the game film, and it was definitely hard to watch because we knew we didn’t play well and we lacked energy,” freshman center Loudon Love said. “If you want to be great, you have to give energy and effort all the time. And watching yourself not do it is a hard feeling.”
Downtrodden Detroit Mercy will be the opposition tonight with Oakland visiting the Nutter Center on Sunday afternoon.
How will the Raiders fare facing a lineup of teams looking for revenge?
A trip to Michigan that included wins over the Titans and the Golden Grizzlies was part of the start of WSU’s great run, and now they will have a chance to start a new one against those teams in front of their home fans…
Finally, baseball season creeped closer last night with the start of the 2018 Reds Winter Caravan.
I was at the Polaris Fashion Center north of Columbus to see the first leg of the northern tour, where Dick Williams faced some tougher-than-expected questions from fans, Todd Benzinger talked about what it was like to catch the last out of the 1990 World Series and Jim Day shared a poignant moment from his budding broadcast career.
I will have more on what was said later today, so check out my Facebook or Twitter pages for those updates!