Sullinger cuts down the net after winning the BTT.
Ohio State dominated the Big Ten last season, losing only two games. The Buckeyes also took care of business in the Big Ten Tournament and their pre-conference games. Ohio State got stuck with a tough draw in the NCAA tournament, and lost to a tough Kentucky team that somehow received a four seed. Overall though, it was a great season and many of the Buckeye players are returning for next season.
This post will look at the season from a statistical standpoint to see what the Buckeyes did to win all of those games. The source for all of these stats is the great statsheet.com.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Overall Record: 34-3
Conference Record: 16-2
Final Conference Standing: 1st
Home Record: 20-0
Away Record: 9-2
Neutral Court Record: 5-1
Record Against Top 25 at end of year: 3-3
Overtime Record: 1-0
Largest Winning Margin: 60 points vs Tennessee-Martin
Largest Losing Margin: 13 points at Purdue
Best Win: vs Florida #9 end of year RPI
Worst Loss: Wisconsin #16 end of year RPI
Ohio State had a very successful season. The two games they lost were at Wisconsin and Purdue, teams that didn't lose any home games. The Buckeyes started off the season destroying non-conference teams, including an 18-point win over Florida and a 22-point win over South Carolina.
Once Ohio State started conference play, the final scores started getting a lot closer. After beating Indiana by a wide margin, they won the next four games by no more than five points each. When Purdue came to town in late January, Ohio State dominated from the opening tip and won by 23.
After a close call at Northwestern and a couple of wins against Minnesota and Michigan, Ohio State lost their first game of the year at Wisconsin, which was followed two games later by their second loss of the year. After that second loss, Ohio State cruised through the rest of the regular season, avenging their loss at Wisconsin by beating the Badgers by 28 points at home.
In the Big Ten Tournament, Northwestern took Ohio State to overtime, but Jared Sullinger kept getting to the free-throw line and knocking them down to seal a victory. The Buckeyes finished off the BTT with wins over Michigan and Penn State.
In the NCAA tournament, Ohio State took care of business by blowing out UTSA and George Mason. In the Sweet Sixteen, they faced Kentucky, who were almost certainly the best four seed in the tournament. Ohio State shot terribly and Kentucky managed to keep the score low and pulled out a 62-60 victory.
Team Statistics in Conference Play (Rank in parenthesis)
Possessions per 40 minutes: 62.8 (6th)
Points per possessions: 1.19 (1st)
Rebound %: 51 (4th)
Assist %: 56.9 (7th)
Turnover %: 16.4 (7th)
True Shooting %: 60.4 (1st)
Points Scored Per Game: 74.5 (1st)
Points Scored Against Per Game: 64.1 (2nd)
Fouls On OSU Per Game: 15.4 (11th - fewest in the conference)
The biggest number that jumps out from this list is the points per possession. It was first in the conference, which resulted in Ohio State leading scoring in the conference, despite being middle of the pack in terms of pace. The Buckeyes also knew how to stay out of foul trouble, which enabled them to primarily play only seven players. They also shot a lot more free throws than their opponents, which helped their True Shooting %.
Individual Statistical Leaders in Conference Games
Minutes played per game: Jon Diebler, 37.7
Points per game: Jared Sullinger, 17.1
Rebounds per game: Jared Sullinger, 9.4
Assists per game: Aaron Craft, 4.6
Steals per game: Aaron Craft, 2.2
Blocks per game: Dallas Lauderdale, .8
Coach Thad Matta used the same starting lineup in all 18 conference games. Freshman Aaron Craft wouldn't start, but came in quickly enough to average over 30 minutes per game. Craft was a great defensive guard and opposing players often grew visibly frustrated at him.
Jared Sullinger, of course, was the most dominant player on the team. He controlled the paint in nearly every contest and converted 70% of his 122 free throw attempts. He also mostly stayed out of foul trouble while playing solid defense.
Jon Diebler, David Lighty and Dallas Lauderdale also contributed. Diebler managed to hit more three-pointers than in anyone else in Big Ten history over the course of his career. Lighty was a solid defensive player who contributed four rebounds and three assists per game. Lauderdale was a big body who saw his minutes decrease this year, but he gave Sullinger rest and could play with him if the Buckeyes needed to go big.
Ohio State had a great season this year, winning both the Big Ten regular season and tournament championships. As the one-and-done format of the NCAA tournament leaves no margin for error, Ohio State's tournament ended before it should. While this ending might have left a bad taste in fans' mouths, Ohio State did a lot of great things this year. The fans have a lot to look forward to in the future, as Ohio State looks to be the conference favorites heading into next season.