The past weekend was by far NOT a good weekend for Buckeye nation. Last year ended with the sour note of a flat offense, and an overworked defense, on the football gridiron being horse-whipped by the Tigers of Clemson. Then the following day, the beginning of the year, the Men’s basketball team, tried as they did, fell short in their Big Ten opener against the Illini of Illinois.
So what else is there to say?
Well, at least, the Men’s Basketball team has an opportunity to rid the sour taste from our memories ….
This Thursday (January 5th at 7:00 p.m.) @ Value City Arena the Buckeyes will be taking on the # 20 team in the nation – the Purdue Boilermakers.
Let’s take a look:
The Boilermakers are a good team. Let’s not fool ourselves. They always have a good and respectable program in West Lafayette. This year is no exception.
The Boilermakers relay primarily on three players – though they have five that can flat-out play.
The team is led in scoring by Forward 6-9 Sophomore Caleb Swanigan. He is averaging 18.5 points per game, while leading the team also in rebounds with a “very” nice 13.0 snagging average per game. At assists Junior Guard, 6-4, Dakota Mathias, is providing the Boilermakers with a 4.2 average per game.
The Boilermakers have four players averaging double-figures in points thus far in 15-games. Of course that starts off with Caleb Swanigan with 18.5, followed up by Isaac Haas, the 7-2 Junior Center with 13.9, Vincent Edwards comes in with 12.1, and Carsen Edwards (no relation) has 10.7. It is noteworthy to also mention that Caleb Swanigan is high among the nation’s leaders in the double-double category.
They are currently 12-3 this season. Their losses have come at the hands of some pretty good talent. They lost to # 1 Villanova, always top-ranked Louisville, and Minnesota on the 1st of January. And though Minnesota’s loss may raise a question mark, they are currently 4th in the Big Ten standings and are 13-2 with losses to Florida State and Michigan State.
The Buckeyes, I believe are a good team too. Neither of these teams will win a National Title, certainly not this year, but it isn’t to say they won’t surprise.
The Buckeyes have some wonderful talent of their own. Leading in points is Jae’Sean Tate with 13.9 per game. Rebounding falls into the capable hands of Trevor Thompson who is averaging 10.4 snags per game.
Just as Purdue has four players averaging in points per game in double figures the Buckeyes have five. Jae’Sean Tate leads with 13.9, JaQuan Lyle comes in with 11.9, Marc Loving has 11.6, Kam Williams is hitting for 10.8, and Trevor Thompson rounds out the five with 10.4.
The Buckeyes are now 10-4, 11th in the Big Ten standings, and are coming into league play against a strong Conference in College basketball at 0-1. The issue with the Buckeyes is you don’t know which team will show – the Good one, or the Bad one.
OSU has five players who have played in all 14 games, four of which have over 400 minutes. Purdue has six players who have played in all 15 of their games, four of them have over 400 minutes. The Buckeyes with these four players are averaging 437.5 minutes, while Purdue with their four is averaging out with 432. This may appear as a confusing stat, but what it shows is that four players on both teams have the coach’s complete confidence to be put in, and kept in. What it shows though – in a crazy way, is the durability of the Buckeyes with their 5.5-minute differential is tougher? More driven? More of a Coach’s confidence? It can’t be argued that Thad has less confidence in the remaining portion of his roster – because this simply isn’t so. The durability of the four I speak of – Jae’Sean Tate, JaQuan Lyle, Marc Loving and Kam Williams is that they all score in double figures, rarely foul out, and are tough – period. But the same can be said of the Purdue four – Caleb Swanigan, Vincent Edwards, Dakota Mathias, and PJ Thompson … the difference is the 5.5-minute margin. That is substantial in a game of basketball. So arguably the toughness of the Buckeyes, as I see it statistically, is more to be recognized.
I suppose in mentioning any of that – is to say – I believe the Buckeyes can win this game. Purdue is not a ‘shove-aside’ team. They will be in the hunt to the very end. But if the Good-Buckeyes show on Thursday, keep that 5.5-minute difference in your mind, because one of the four in Scarlet and Gray will be the reason why they will win.
No predictions here. I am retiring from that. Foreseeing the future often is disappointing, or certainly entertaining enough to make that more important than the actual reason why you are predicating – and that is because the Buckeyes need this one. Even though the Big Ten season is young, this one can plant a worthy confidence into the minds of these young players that can carry the season on into a wondrous path.