CBS analyst Seth Davis predicted big things for Ohio State after the No. 1 Buckeyes' 93-65 victory over No. 10 Wisconsin Sunday at Value City Arena.
"I think they're going to win the whole thing,'' Davis said on the post-game show.
There were several things I liked about Ohio State's victory.
- It hit 14 of 15 3-pointers, including 7 of 8 by senior Jon Diebler. In the past two games, including a March 1 victory at Penn State, Diebler has hit 17 of 20 from 3-point range and scored 57 points. In Ohio State's two losses Feb. 12 at Wisconsin and Feb. 20 at Purdue, Diebler totalled 20 points and hit a combined 3 for 7 from 3-point range. He nearly had 20 at the half Sunday, with 16 against the Badgers. Last month, Diebler either wasn't getting open or his teammates weren't making an effort to get him the ball. Whatever the case, that's been corrected. "I don’t know. I’m just getting a little bit of daylight,'' Diebler said Sunday. "They’re doing a good job of screening and getting me the ball. I don’t know how to explain it, just like at Penn State.” My favorite 3 was Diebler's last, a fallaway off the dribble in the corner that gave OSU its largest lead at 69-48.
- OSU freshman Jared Sullinger took it personal that he was spit on as he left the court at Wisconsin. He finished with 22 points and eight rebounds. Before the game he said he wanted to beat Wisconsin by 50. "That first loss I didn’t take too lightly. I wanted to win, and I wanted to win big,'' he said afterward. The Buckeyes are showing that they don't need Sullinger to carry them every night, which will be a good thing when NCAA play begins. But he will need that venom when foes continue to pound him during March Madness. He may not win Big Ten player of the year, but his prowess around the basket must not be underestimated by NBA scouts. My favorite play of his Sunday: Two rolls under the basket, one which left him under the rim,then powering the ball in with four Badgers around him fpr a 66-48 lead with 10:39 left.
- OSU has played its final game at home, but Sunday showed the impact of moving the students down into the lower bowl. "In all four years, I've never seen our crowd like this,'' Diebler told CBS. OSU set a single-season home record by going 20-0 and the atmosphere surely played a part.
- Freshman point guard Aaron Craft's biggest impact in the NCAA tournament could come on defense. Largely due to Craft's defense, Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor finished with only eight points after bombing in 27 in the first meeting. "Where is Tay-lor?'' chanted the crowd with 4:04 to play. Taylor’s previous Big Ten low in points was 13 vs. Penn State on Feb. 20. "Aaron did a tremendous job and he studied so much film,'' OSU coach Thad Matta said. "The other thing that people won’t notice is the job all the other guys did helping Aaron against Jordan.'' This OSU team differs from the Greg Oden-Mike Conley team that was the NCAA runner-up. That team needed Conley to score. This one needs Craft to defend and dish, especially to his buddy Sullinger.
- There's no doubt the Buckeyes have refocused after losing 2 of 3 last month. "The Ohio State Buckeyes are all business and making a statement on the final day of the regular season,'' said Gus Johnson of CBS during the game. It appears OSU is peaking at the right time.
- Fifth-year senior David Lighty, the heart and soul of the Buckeyes, got swept up in the moment after the game. He wrapped a long strand of confetti around his neck and kissed the 'O' at midcourt before he left the floor. "I think we’re solidifying ourselves as a two-sport school right now,” Lighty said afterward, net around his neck. Don't think even an NCAA title will supplant football in Columbus, but it would be a big boost. Will Ohioans drive hours to see a basketball game in the dead of winter?
On other sports:
- The Ohio State women recorded their ninth consecutive victory with an 84-70 victory over Penn State for the Big Ten tournament title. The Buckeyes, seeded fifth, stood 13-9 overall and 4-6 in the conference on Feb. 6. Now they're 24-9 and headed to the NCAA tournament. Coach Jim Foster's teams have always been NCAA disappointments, but surviving a horrible month may have toughened this group far beyond his others.
- The University of Dayton women (21-10), seeded sixth, advanced to tonight's Atlantic-10 final for the first time in school history. It will face top-seeded Xavier (27-2) at 5 p.m. on ESPN2. During the regular-season, Xavier twice beat Dayton by four points, once in overtime. Junior center Casey Nance of Revere High School is averaging just 3.5 points per game, but the daughter of former Cavalier Larry Nance leads the team in blocked shots (43) and is second in rebounding (4.7). Ten players average more than 10 minutes per game for the Flyers; only two are scoring in double figures. Nance is averaging 19.5 minutes per game, has started 24 games and played in all 31.
- TMI: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra may regret saying some of his players were moved to tears after an 87-86 home loss to Chicago Sunday that allowed the Bulls to sweep the Heat in their three meetings. Spoelstra may have been trying to convey just how much his stars care, but it came off adding to their perceived lack of toughness. ""This is painful for every single one of us to go through this," Spoelstra said. "There are couple of guys crying in the locker room right now. It is not a matter of want." I loved Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau's move to put Joakim Noah on LeBron James for the final shot. The switch seemed to throw off James. Noah also forced James to shoot with his left hand. How familiar did that look -- James dribbling at the top of the key for a few seconds before slashing to the basket? At least he didn't throw up an errant 3. Still don't understand why the ball's not in Dwyane Wade's hands in that situation.
- Stow's Ben Curtis continued his promising trend of shooting his best score of the tournament in the final round, this time with a 68 in the PGA Tour's Honda Classic to finish tied for 29th. While Curtis hasn't won since 2008, he ranks third on tour in driving accuracy (76.19 percent) and fourth in sand save percentage (68.18). His scoring average of 70.14 is 35th. Now he needs his putting (ranked 158th) to come around.
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