By Jeff Goodman
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- So, maybe Ohio State isn't quite ready to be bounced from the "elite" category. Or maybe Indiana isn't quite ready for the Prime Time.
Likely a combination of both.
Thad Matta and the Buckeyes exactly a measure of revenge for the loss in Bloomington two weeks ago with a resounding thumping against the Hoosiers on Sunday afternoon. The final score was 80-63, and that doesn't even tell the story of how one-sided the game was from start to finish. The outcome was never in question as Ohio State jumped out to an early lead thanks largely to its defense and role guy Lenzelle Smith.
The score at halftime read: 35-14.
Truth be told, it looked like a Final Four team going up against an NIT squad.
Smith abused Jordan Hulls and Matt Roth and set his career-high in the first 20 minutes. Jared Sullinger, William Buford and Deshaun Thomas weren't spectacular, but the trio remained out of foul trouble and on the floor -- unlike the last time the teams met. On the flip side, this Indiana team looked nothing like the one that has pulled out two of the most impressive victories this season against Kentucky and Ohio State.
The Hoosiers followed-up a troubling home setback against Minnesota earlier in the week with this lackluster performance -- and now Tom Crean's team sits in a tie for sixth place in the Big Ten, just a half-game in front of Wisconsin and Iowa.
This group is clearly a major upgrade over last year's group, but the Hoosiers - despite their lofty ranking - aren't ready for Prime Time just yet.
Sure, Christian Watford's 3-pointer gave Indiana the win over Kentucky and the Hoosiers got another impressive victory against Ohio State on their home floor, but it was the perfect storm. Indiana came into the first matchup with swagger, without having faced any adversity -- and then three of Ohio State's top four players were saddled with foul trouble.
Now it's a team that has lost two straight -- and sits right in the middle of a tightly contested Big Ten race.
That's the bad news. The good? Next up for the Hoosiers are the league's doormats -- Nebraska and Penn State.