By the Numbers:
|24-8 (10-8)||Record||19-11 (11-7)|
March 14, 2014 - Banker's Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
2 PM EST - ESPN/WatchESPN
Ohio State enters the game after beating Purdue in the first round of the B1G Tournament. In what was a close game, Ohio State pulled off the victory after Purdue missed a last second three-point attempt. The Buckeyes take a two-game win streak into this game against Nebraska, but more impressively have won eight of their last 11. Every team is beatable in this B1G Tournament and that includes Ohio State. While they have been successful lately, they have losses to Penn State and Indiana, two teams that have already been bounced from the tournament. Rest will definitely play a factor in the tournament and it might be seen as early as Friday. LaQuinton Ross and Aaron Craft played 75 total minutes and took 37 shots. Their legs will be tested with the day game.
Nebraska enters the game after a first round bye due to being the four seed in the tournament. Their fresh legs will pose an advantage, but it's their recent play that should be considered their best strength right now. They have won eight of their last nine. After starting the B1G season 0-4, the Cornhuskers beat the Buckeyes at home and went on a roll. An 0-4 start made B1G fans overlook the Huskers, but an 11-3 finish brought them into the light as a legit threat in the conference. Nebraska is clearly hot, but the time off since the Wisconsin game could prove to be enough time for them to let their guards down. Ohio State is a very good team that split the season series with them (OSU won 84-53, NEB won 68-62). Lastly, watch how Nebraska plays away from home in this one. They have struggled when away from Pinnacle Bank Arena going 4-10 on the road or at a neutral site.
Projected Starting Lineups:
|LaQuinton Ross||F||Terran Petteway|
|Sam Thompson||F||Tai Webster|
|Amir Williams||C/F||Walter Pitchford|
|Aaron Craft||G||Ray Gallegos|
|Lenzelle Smith Jr.||G||Shavon Shields|
Players to Watch
Aaron Craft is the heart and soul of this Buckeyes team (not to mention the center of Dan Dakich's dreams). He played 38 minutes in the Purdue game and took an unprecedented 16 shots from the field. In his last five games, Craft is averaging 10/4/5/3. He's doing a bit of everything, but has struggled from the field in three of those five games.
LaQuinton Ross is another Buckeyes' player who will have his legs tested after 37 minutes played against Purdue. He took 21 shots and ended with a big stat line. He posted a double double with 19 points and 15 rebounds. He has scored 19 points or more in four straight games, but his 15 rebounds is his most this season. His 21 shots taken against the Boilermakers marks the most he has taken in a game this season.
Terran Petteway is the best player for Nebraska. In their big win against the Badgers, he scored 26 points and added 10 rebounds and 2 assists. His 26 marked the 11th time that he has scored 20 or more points in a game. So far this season he has averaged 18 points per game. They are 6-5 in those games. When Petteway has gotten to the free throw line 10 or more times this season, the Cornhuskers are 4-1.
Shavon Shields is one reason why the Cornhuskers will be a tough team to beat in the B1G and NCAA Tournaments. Nebraska has two legitimate scorers. While Shields is only averaging 12.7 points per game, he has put up 15 or more points nine times on the season. Like Petteway, Shields getting to the free throw line means wins. The Cornhuskers are 4-0 when he goes to the line 10+ times.
I was all set to predict an Ohio State win over Nebraska on Friday, but the minutes that Ross and Craft played is scary. Add in the fact that they took 37 shots and their legs should be beat. They barely beat Purdue with their two best players playing a ton of minutes. Nebraska on the other hand will be fresh and coming off their biggest win on the season. Coach Miles will have his time ready to play and preaching the fact that they aren't safe to get in the big dance. You can bet on that.
Nebraska 68 Ohio State 60