Blog Entry

Despite flaws, Ohio St. still a Final Four threat

Posted on: March 4, 2012 7:16 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 7:59 pm
By Jeff Borzello

We’ve been hearing it all year, but it had been getting louder recently. The talk about Jared Sullinger not being as dominant as last season, the talk about William Buford’s inconsistency, the talk about the lack of 3-point shooters, the talk about a lack of toughness and chemistry.

Well, despite the supposed flaws and weaknesses, one thing is clear: Ohio State is still a Final Four-caliber team.

The Buckeyes demonstrated that potential during their 15-point comeback and late victory at Michigan State on Sunday afternoon. Sullinger struggled, but still managed to get 14 points and 10 rebounds. Buford made big shot after big shot down the stretch, including the game-winner with 1.0 seconds left. Aaron Craft had seven rebounds, six assists and four steals.

This team has the pieces. Sullinger is still a hoss on the low block, capable of carrying Ohio State on the offensive end and getting opposing big men in foul trouble. He hasn’t been as effective as he was last season, but he’s still one of the nation’s best big men.

When Buford is hitting shots, he’s nearly impossible to guard. He steps up at clutch times, and is not afraid to take the big shot. Buford has deep range on his shot and can create his own look and get separation for pull-up jumpers.

Craft might not be a shot-maker, but he’s still one of the toughest point guards in the country. He’s a pest defensively, and completely takes opponents out of their preferred offensive sets. Aside from a few transition layups, Keith Appling really struggled as a result of Craft’s defensive intensity.

The X-factor going forward could be Deshaun Thomas. He can knock down 3-pointers, and has really picked up his play of late. Prior to the Michigan State contest, he was averaging 21.5 points in his last four games. Thomas is difficult to guard because of the multiple ways in which he can get off shots.

Of course, there is also that Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes are extremely efficient at that end of the floor, dominating the defensive glass and forcing turnovers at a high rate. They also limit fouls, which is why Thad Matta isn’t forced to go to his bench very often. Ohio State didn’t allow Draymond Green to control the game, which helped slow down Michigan State’s offense in the second half. Moreover, the Buckeyes made a concerted effort to get back on defense after the Spartans beat them down the floor for easy transition baskets early on.

When a team has studs at the point guard position, on the wing and inside, they are a team no one wants to face come March. That’s exactly what Ohio State has – and then some.

There are certainly some flaws, but the Buckeyes proved on Sunday that they are still a major threat to reach New Orleans. 


Since: Jan 7, 2011
Posted on: March 5, 2012 12:28 am

Despite flaws, Ohio St. still a Final Four threat

does anyone know who teresa minors team is........?????.....he blasts everyone elses but seems to not have or is afraid to admit who his is ..........he   she    it    must have a very lonely life

Since: Feb 25, 2007
Posted on: March 4, 2012 11:21 pm

Despite flaws, Ohio St. still a Final Four threat

and Teres Minor is still an idiot

Since: Mar 27, 2010
Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:18 pm

Despite flaws, Ohio St. still a Final Four threat

The key is whether Matta, and Craft for that matter, learned something from this game and the last few weeks. The lesson is simple, everyone has to contribute, even the bench. Sullinger is a fine player, likely lottery pick for the NBA, but he is not a dominating player this year. The loss of 20 lbs. may help with the NBA, but OSU needs a power forward/center, not another forward. Ravenel showed that they need some beef for rebounding and defense, as well as scoring underneath. Sullinger had back and ankle problems earlier this year and I think it continued, nobody wanted to admit to it. He clearly doesn't get off the floor or move as well as last year and he weighs less. If they want to make a run, they need to play Ravenel, Thompson, Scott, and maybe Witherspoon or some of the other guys to give the starters a short blow. It wouldn't hurt to play a little zone and press a little, but that is too much variety for Matta.

Since: Mar 6, 2010
Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:00 pm

Despite flaws, Ohio St. still a Final Four threat

The Big 10 has been a murderer's row for a conference this season. I'm really hoping that all this battle-testing will aid Ohio State in the NCAA tournament. Last season, they pretty much ran everyone out of the building except for the 2 losses at Purdue and Wisconsin. The Kentucky game in the tournament could have gone either way, but the Buckeyes just didn't seem to be able to turn it up when needed (Buford shooting too much didn't help). There are only a couple of other teams outside the Big 10 that can play defense like the Buckeyes have seen in the last 2 weeks with Wisconsin and Michigan State. If the Buckeyes grab a #2 seed with anyone other than Kentucky in their bracket, I would almost make them the favorite to win that region and go to the Final Four.

Since: Jan 29, 2009
Posted on: March 4, 2012 7:36 pm

Despite flaws, Ohio St. still a Final Four threat

I agree the Buckeyes are very capable of making a run to New Orleans.  If Buford stays hot in March OSU has the ability to be a great team and contend for a national title.  It won't be easy and it's all about matchups in the Big Dance so I'm hoping the OSU gets a 2 seed in a bracket where Kentucky is not the one seed.  More than likely UK will be marching to the Final Four so it would be nice to see the Buckeyes play them on the biggest stage.  Go Bucks!

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: March 4, 2012 7:35 pm

Despite flaws, Ohio St. still a Final Four threat

I detest Ohio, but I agree with the analysis.  I would like to add that, because of early entry to the NBA being commonplace, every team has flaws.  Also, due to the fickle nature of any game that involves throwing a ball at a target while someone else is trying to keep it from getting there, any team can "go cold" and lose at any time.  

If the NCAA had NBA-style playoffs, the bettter teams would always win.  In the NCAA Tournament, though, 1 and 2 seeds only win the tournament about 80 percent of the time.  Single elimination adds a "wild card" to the competition that gives a lot more teams a chance.  The victor usually comes from the top four seeds or sixteen teams, and it looks like they all have a chance this year. 

Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: March 4, 2012 7:26 pm

Despite flaws, Ohio St. still a Final Four threat

Nice summary. If the Buckeyes can get some perimeter threat (or presence) they could go far.

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