It was very satisfying, indeed, to watch Ohio State crush Wisconsin today, 93-65. The blow-out win was a fitting send-off to David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and Dallas Lauderdale, who will go down as one of the best — and certainly most beloved — senior classes in Ohio State hoops history. It also was nice to see the Buckeyes “deal with it,” to use Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan’s deathless phrase.
Ohio State coach Thad Matta has molded together a really wonderful team. It is staggering that the Buckeyes scored 93 points on the Badgers, who are one of the best defensive teams in the country. Before today, Wisconsin had allowed only one team to score even 70 points. But today, the Buckeyes beat the Badgers inside and beat the Badgers outside. Jon Diebler led Ohio State in raining threes, as the Buckeyes shot a stunning 14 out of 15 from behind the arc. Jared Sullinger, Dallas Lauderdale, and David Lighty also put up a lot of points in the paint, and the Buckeyes out-rebounded the Badgers as well. Finally, Aaron Craft played a virtually flawless offensive floor game, dishing out 6 assists while having zero turnovers. If Ohio State executes like that on the offensive end in the rest of its games this season, it will be a very hard team for anyone to beat.
On the defensive end, the Buckeyes shut down Jordan Taylor, who had torched the Buckeyes in Madison, and also took the Badgers’ excellent forward, Jon Leuer, out of his game. The Buckeyes can play a suffocating man-to-man, as they did today, and their offensive efficiency also puts pressure on the opposing team’s offense. When Ohio State is scoring on virtually every trip down the court, and often with a three, the temptation for the other team to come down and try to score quickly is difficult to resist — and often quick shots are bad shots.
The Buckeyes now need to put this very satisfying win behind them. They move on to the Big Ten Tournament as the number one seed. That tournament doesn’t mean much, except as a vehicle to cement an overall no. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes need to avoid injury, stay sharp, and let some of their back-ups play — and then they need to get ready for The Big Dance.