The Buckeyes Men’s Basketball squad travels north to the road-kill state, settling in Ann Arbor, to play TTUN – scheduled for 6:00 p.m.- and can be seen on ESPN2.
First allow us to wish the Buckeyes well – please for the sake of our Ken Kohl – who plays golf with John Beilein’s brother-in-law – and for the love of James Naismith – get this baby!
Okay! Now onto business … traveling north to play TTUN is never a miniscule issue. Both teams are coming off a loss. Last Sunday, the 29th of January, the Wolverines took a loss in East Lansing against *ichigan State, 70-62. Our Buckeyes took one in Columbus against the Terrapins of Maryland in a late rally, 77-71.
The Big Ten is having a “blast” with one another. Only Maryland and Wisconsin sit with one loss each, while Purdue and Northwestern have mustered three losses each. The rest of the pack is clearly more even matched. All the same, it has been a joy watching Big Ten basketball thus far this season – until, well, dare I say – Buckeye games!
The Wolverines of TTUN is currently listed 8th within the Conference with a 14-8 overall record and 4-5 in Big Ten play. They have taken losses most would imagine they should not have – such as against Illinois on January 11th, or Penn State on January 4th. They have also beaten Marquette in a noticeable win in November 79-61. But even with that said, the Wolverines are essentially having a similar year that the Buckeyes are experiencing – unremarkable.
The Wolverines are led in scoring by Senior Forward Zak Irving, averaging 13.7 points per game. He is also listed as #2 in rebounding for the team with an average of 4.6 per game. Speaking of rebounds – that belongs to 6-10 Junior Forward D.J. Wilson with a 6.2 per game snag. And the steal leader would be Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, a Junior Guard listed at 6-4 with an average of one steal per game.
As sacrilegious as it is for an admission here – the Buckeyes need to focus on Mr. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. And I am not saying that for the cheap joke of what madness is transpiring via Washington – but because this kid is a basketball player who can play. In 22 games, averaging 27.4 minutes per game, he has a scoring average of 7.9 per game, rebounds 2.3 per game, and has 1.9 assists per game. In their last game against *ichigan State in 15 minutes of play he hit 2-5 from the field, was 1-2 on the 3-pointers, and got his one assist. The loss to the Spartans was only reflective of the Wolverines woes. But Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman played well, even if unnoticed, or mirrored in his final stats. Keep an eye on him. He’ll surprise.
The Wolverines have four players who average in scoring in double figures: Zak Irvin (13.7); Derrick Walton, Jr. (10.5); Moritz Wagner (11.9); and D.J. Wilson (10.5). What does this mean? Nothing! They still have eight overall losses – five of which are in a strongly even-matched conference.
THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY:
The Buckeyes last one against Maryland was a good one. They did well, even though they fell short. Contrary to what is buzzing about Maryland, if they land in the right side of the bracket, are potentially a Final Four Team. With the talents of Melo Trimble, Anthony Cowan, and lest we forget, Kevin Huerter, they will indeed surprise. Come March we shall seek the rebirth of this conversation … but until then, let’s discuss TTUN.
The Buckeyes are still led by Jae’Sean Tate in scoring with an average of 14.3 per game. He is also 2nd in rebounding with 6.2 per game. Trevor Thompson continues to lead the Buckeyes in rebounding with an average of 9.2 per game. And the assist and steal leader belongs solely to JaQuan Lyle with 5.3 per game and 1.1 respectfully.
The number of players scoring in double figures per game for the Scarlet and Gray has not changed either. It remains at five: Jae’Sean Tate (14.3); JaQuan Lyle (12.1); Marc Loving (11.7); Trevor Thompson (10.5) and Kam Williams (10.3). Again, as I mentioned above reference a similar stat for TTUN – what does it mean? Especially if you cannot finish it off in a close one?
I think the Buckeyes are playing with more inspired energy then they were prior to the first of the year. The loss of Keita Bates-Diop was substantial (I will not yield in that proclamation until the AP picks it up!). But it is true. His season ending injury has placed a wrinkle in the plans. This doesn’t mean to surrender. And, admittedly, it doesn’t seem they have. The energy is up – it’s just the schedule is “tougher” then it looks. But now comes a more evenly matched opponent in TTUN. Let’s not jump the gun and profess a victory. I seem to be on the odd side of such predictions … producing a losing record in my own right. But I will say this is an opportunity for the Buckeyes to regroup. They are a better team then what the stats show and Thad is a guy that can get the best out of someone when the time is needed. Thad – if you are listening – the time is now.