It was a virtual “play-in” game for the NCAA Tournament as the Hoosiers and Buckeyes competed for potentially the final couple spots on the right side of the bubble. There are still more games to play, but it appears the Buckeyes positioned themselves to be in the tournament with a narrow victory over Indiana.
Let’s take a look at some of what we learned from this afternoon’s game.
What We Learned:
1. The Buckeyes Are A Completely Different Team With Kaleb Wesson.
This was already known, but wow, it pays to mention it again. Ohio State is a completely different team with Wesson in the lineup.
The 6-foot-9 big man poured in 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 34 minutes of play. Wesson’s presence also allowed for Ohio State’s guards to have more room to operate on offense. The starting combination of CJ Jackson and Keyshawn Woods shot 15-27 from the floor and scored 35 points.
Wesson also contributed on the defensive end with three blocks, two steals, and 10 defensive rebounds.
Ohio State’s NCAA fate is still not sealed, but with Wesson in the lineup, it is seems pretty clear that this is an NCAA Tournament-caliber squad. Will those three losses with him out of the lineup be too costly?
2. Indiana’s Sloppy, Disinterested Play Cost Them At The Worst Time.
The Hoosiers have struggled with turnovers all season. According to KenPom, Indiana’s 155th in the country in turnover percentage at 18.2 percent. That number improved slightly in conference play, but it reared its ugly head this afternoon.
The Hoosiers coughed up the ball 17 times this afternoon, and it cost them 17 second-chance points in just the first half. Overall, every Indiana player who played more than 15 minutes recorded at least one turnover.
It wasn’t just sloppy play that cost Indiana, Ohio State’s defensive effort needs kudos as well. The Buckeyes put Indiana in a headlock through the first 33 minutes of the game, and its athletic defense made Indiana look uncomfortable for most of the day. Special shoutout to Ohio State’s guards for holding Romeo Langford and Rob Phinisee to as many turnovers as field goals (5).
Speaking of Langford, he looked like wanted to be somewhere else today. It’s true that his demeanor won’t trend to more of the “rah-rah” type, but with Indiana’s season on the line, Langford didn’t bring it today. He tended to float around the perimeter, shoot too many three’s and had no interest in responding to Ohio State’s intensity.
That’s disappointing. Langford balling out and carrying Indiana to an NCAA Tournament bid is something every Indiana fan wanted to see today. It’s too bad Langford didn’t seem like he wanted to see it too.
3. Indiana’s NCAA Tournament Hopes Are Likely Dead, Ohio State’s are TBD.
The Hoosiers are now at 17-15 and before the game appeared on 68 of BracketMatrix’s 114 internet mock brackets. It would appear certain that this number will drop as developments of the weekend play out. There is still a slight possibility that the Hoosiers still could make it, but I doubt it.
For Ohio State, their tournament projections brighten. They now sit at 19-13 with five Quad 1 wins. Fellow bubble team Creighton lost today as well so that only can help. The Buckeyes have an opportunity tomorrow to punch their ticket with a win over Michigan State. With Wesson back in the action, maybe Ohio State can pull the upset.