What happened on the 23rd? I was totally asleep – obviously! I completely missed that the Buckeyes had a game – against The Wisconsin Badgers – who with the Poll Date of February 20th was the 16th ranked team in the nation…
…And the Buckeyes won rather convincingly – 83-73….
Go figure! The year for the Buckeyes has been turbulent (for the lack of a better word). In games that the pundits, Vegas, and the likes of me, where all concurred that the Buckeyes would lose – they won. And, equally, just as the pundits, Vegas, and the likes of me, all agreed that the Buckeyes would win – they lost. It has been a season that has been hard to figure.
I must be honest – I would not have given the Buckeyes a prayer in the game on the 23rd against the Badgers. But I was wrong, and I am glad for that.
The NCAA Tournament is clearly out of the view for this team. I cannot imagine any possibilities. But, now…. The NIT, which is certainly better than staying home, can deliver a wealth of hope in the conclusion of an “off” year for this team, and its program.
Now the Buckeyes travel to State College, PA to meet up with the Litany Lions of Penn State for the first and only battle of this season. The Buckeyes are currently 11th within the Big Ten with a conference record of 6-10, and 16-13 overall. The Litany Lions are 12th in the Big Ten with a similar record within the league, 6-10, but roll out a 12-16 overall record.
This one can be interesting ….
The Litany Lions are led by 6’3” Freshman Guard out of Philly, Tony Carter, who leads the team with an average of 13.2 per game. He also leads the team in assists with an average of 4.1. Mike Watkins, 6’9” Sophomore Forward leads the team in rebounding with an average of 8.0 per game. The thief of the team, Sophomore Guard 6’4” Josh Reaves averages 2.2 per game.
Interestingly, Penn State, just as the Buckeyes do, have four players scoring in double figures per game. Tony Carter (13.2); Lamar Stevens (12.5); Shep Garner (11.9); and Peyton Banks (11.0). Clearly Penn State has an offensive output, as do the Buckeyes, but their loss column provides evidence of a defensive-depleted effort … just like who?
The Litany Lions in their last five games started off well back on the 7th of February against Maryland, winning 70-64. They would move onto the 11th against Illinois and win that as well. Then the skid began – currently owning a 3-game losing streak – Nebraska (02/14); Purdue (02/21); and Minnesota (02/25).
THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY:
The Buckeyes had a “great” win against Wisconsin. It was needed. As I have mentioned the NIT’s invitation is looming. This one against Penn State is more important in the factoring of this invitation, then is really advertised.
The Buckeyes are still led in scoring by Jae’Sean Tate who is averaging 14.1 points per game. Trevor Thompson continues to lead the Buckeyes on the boards with a 9.1 per game average. Kam Williams has an average of steals per game at .8. And JaQuan Lyle leads the team in feeding the ball off with a 4.8 per game average.
Just as the Litany Lions have four players averaging in double figures, the Buckeyes do too. Jae’Sean Tate (14.1); Marc Loving (12.5); JaQuan Lyle (11.2); and Trevor Thompson (10.4). Kam Williams was there, would’ve been five Buckeyes, but he has dropped to a 9.9 average. I don’t know if it means anything … they still have 13 losses … and Penn State has 16 … so what does it all mean anyway?
In the victory against Wisconsin the star for the Buckeyes was clearly CJ Jackson. In 32 minutes of play he was 4-4 on 3’s and hammered home 18 points. JaQuan Lyle too had a fantastic showing in 26 minutes of play. He was 1-1 on the 3’s with a total of 17 points. They will need to carry that one over to this one.
Both teams after their battle against one another at 8:30 p.m. in State College, PA, broadcasted on the BTN, will have one game remaining. Penn State will play their final at Iowa on the 5th of March. The Buckeyes play at home against Indiana on the 4th. Neither one will have an easy task in those games. So based on that theory, they must tune it up in the one tomorrow against one another. Penn State clearly has an advantage, I believe. Their record which is 12-16 is an indication that even with victories in the two remaining games, there is no evening it all out. Unless they have a sudden burst of “fantastic luck” in the Big Ten Tournament – they will remain watching games instead of playing in them. But, wait, they play the Buckeyes Tuesday the 28th, don’t they? I am speaking about the same Buckeyes that all the pundits, Vegas, and the likes of me, cannot figure out. Anything can happen. Be ready to jump for the ceiling in joy, or slouch in the couch in despair. Everything that can happen will happen tomorrow. Let’s just kneel before the sacred altar of Fred Taylor and plead our case, hoping that Heaven hasn’t tainted his interests in the superficial nonsense we trivialize here on earth … like the Buckeyes winning tomorrow to solidify their chances of redeeming the 2016-17 season in Madison Square Garden.