We've already named an Ohio State contest the best game played in the conference all season, but the Buckeyes lost that titanic battle in East Lansing. Were there three better games for Thad Matta's crew than that one? We know that the NCAA Tournament was a bust for Ohio State, since they ran into the buzzsaw that was the Dayton Flyers, but tOSU had plenty of positive moments to look back on after Aaron Craft was finally picked up off the giant pile of money he was laying on. Without further ado, I give to you...
The best games of Ohio State basketball in 2013-2014:
3. Ohio State vs. Nebraska (Big Ten Tournament) - Ohio State wins 71-67
In what was technically an upset, despite OSU being ranked #24 and Nebraska being, well, Nebraska, the Buckeyes stormed back from an 18-point second half deficit to defeat the red-hot Cornhuskers by four in the quarterfinals of the B1G Tourney. After sneaking past Purdue in the first round, many thought that OSU would be downed by a surging Huskers squad looking to make the Big Dance for the first time since 1998. And those people were probably thinking themselves quite smart when Terran Petteway hit his second free throw to put the Huskers up 48-30. But LaQuinton Ross wasn't about to go out like that, and behind a career-high in both points (26) and rebounds (13) lead the Buckeyes all the way back for the win, and a date with Michigan in the semifinals. The least talented Jonas Brother, aka Amedeo Della Valle, added 12 and six off the bench to help spark Ohio State; Shannon Scott added nine points, five assists, and four rebounds; while Aaron Craft dabbled in Satanism with a line of 6, 6, and 6.
2. Ohio State at Wisconsin (2/1/2014) - Ohio State wins 59-58
Both of these teams started off the season undefeated going a respective 15-0 (OSU) and 16-0 (Wisconsin). What happened after that is what I'd like to call a disastrous display of basketball on par with any season of Northwestern hoops. OSU entered the Kohl Center having lost five of their last six, and not to be outdone by the Buckeyes, Wisconsin had lost four of their last five including a home beatdown at the hands of NU. This was as "must-win" as a February 1st matchup between two teams that were going to make the Tournament anyways could possibly get. Luckily for OSU they were the victors in this battle of free-falling B1G contenders. Sam Dekker missed a last second prayer three-pointer, and the Buckeyes went home with a monster road win. LaQuinton Ross lead the way with 13 points, Amadeo Della Valle added 11, and Aaron Craft did his typical "don't show up for the first 35 minutes of the game offensively, but then totally score all seven of your points in the last five minutes" thing that he always does. It was a big win in a hostile road environment and seemed to get the Buckeyes back on track for the season.
1. Ohio State at Iowa (2/4/2014) - Ohio State wins 76-69
Despite beating the Badgers three days beforehand, OSU had just fallen out of the rankings due to a home loss against Penn State. A statement needed to be made by the Buckeyes, and a road win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena would be just the declaration Ohio State would need to proclaim themselves "back" in the B1G. Iowa had already sauntered into Columbus earlier in the season and dispatched the Buckeyes by 10, so tOSU had revenge on their mind along with the whole "making a statement" thing. Despite being down two at halftime, OSU never looked rattled on the road, and when Aaron Craft hit the free throw to finish his three-point play with just over a minute left, putting the Buckeyes up by seven, the win was in the bag. Craft was dominant in the game, scoring 17 points and adding six assists, six steals, and three rebounds. He lead five Buckeyes who were in double figures, including LaQuinton Ross with 13, and Lenzelle Smith Jr.and Amir Williams with 12. Combined with the Wisconsin win, this was Ohio State's best week of the season and kicked off a stretch where they Buckeyes won six of seven games in conference play.
Honorable mention: Both games against Michigan State were great. The aforementioned loss, which was the best game of the season in the B1G, but was still a loss; and the late season win by two points on Senior Night.