Well, the season is winding down … and in truth it isn’t twisting into a thriller where the Buckeyes “may” make the NCAA Tournament. They aren’t. But with that admission now out of the way – it doesn’t mean that a NIT bid shouldn’t be a goal …. or a nice flurry to end the 2016-17 season. That flurry can begin now – against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers visit Columbus tomorrow, Saturday the 18th, in a matchup they need as well against the Buckeyes with tip-off scheduled for 6:00 p.m.
More is at stake here then what it appears to … same for Nebraska. Both teams are not doing so well in an oddly even league – outside of the top four ranked schools (Maryland, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Northwestern). The seesaw effect rolls among the remaining schools – which include the Buckeyes and Cornhuskers.
The Cornhuskers are currently 10th in the Big Ten with a conference record of 5-8, while posting a 11-14 overall record. Their last outing, Valentine’s Day, they beat Penn State in an impressive victory, 82-66. In that win four players posted double figures in scoring; Glenn Watson, Jr. and Jack McVeigh both delivered 15 points each. While 6-11 Center, Jordy Tshimanga, and Tai Webster had 12 points each. In the first half of that game the Cornhuskers shot 63 % from the field – finishing the game with a 55.4% shooting dominance of Penn State. The overall conclusion of the match-up was Penn State simply did not show up offensively and missed a nice opportunity to level in at .500 within the Big Ten. Nebraska on the other hand did show up offensively. They also planted seed for momentum going into the Ohio State game.
The Cornhuskers are still led by Tai Webster, a New Zealand native, who is averaging an impressive 17.8 points per game (He is also their assist leader with 4.2 per game). Glynn Watson, Jr. comes in with an average of 14.0 points per game. Michael Jacobson leads the team with an average of six rebounds per game, while logging one block per game as well.
The Cornhuskers began the season just as the Buckeyes did – with a tremendous amount of hope. But after beginning the season 4-0 they fell to 6-6 by Christmas. Also within the league they have fallen in one-point losses to Wisconsin, The OSU, and Rutgers, and fell by three-points to Purdue…. They seem to have a similar map that the Buckeyes are following – play hard – without that little extra oomph to finish the game with a win.
THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY:
The Buckeyes roll into this game following two bad losses; on Feb., 11th they fell to Maryland 86-77, and this past Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, they fell to an eager *ichigan State 74-66. They have been on a tailspin, certainly in my opinion, since the loss of Keita Bates-Diop. All the same, the Buckeyes who started the season 6-0 rounded out nicely by Christmas with a 10-3 record. Then came the Big Ten!
The Buckeyes continue to be led by Jae’Sean Tate in scoring with a 14.0 points per game average. Trevor Thompson continues to lead the boards with an impressive 9.3 snag per game average. The Buckeyes “still” have five players averaging in double figures in scoring: Jae’Sean Tate (14.0); Marc Loving (12.6); JaQuan Lyle (11.3); Trevor Thompson (10.6); and Kam Williams (10.4). As I have mentioned in previous previews – this is nice – a notable statistic that would shine so much better if the Buckeyes record was better than what it is – because ultimately this little “tid-bit” means squat when a game cannot be finished off, or Trevor is the lone presence on the boards.
I look forward to this game. It is the most important “meaningless” game in College basketball come Saturday. The Buckeyes, after this meet-up, will be rolling into a tough-three game stretch to finish the season. They meet up with Wisconsin (02/23); Penn State (02/28) & Indiana to finish off the 2016-17 season (03/04). So, I see this game Saturday as a “climate-setter”. What happens Saturday will indeed effect the remainder of the season.
Thad! Focus more on McVeigh than Webster. Tai will score no matter what. McVeigh will be a difference. Let’s go with the Buckeye +1 … it seems to be the way they roll against the Cornhuskers.