College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, January 26, 2012
Remember all the early-season hype about how good Ohio State was and how Jared Sullinger should be considered a candidate for player of the year?
Well, whether you do or not, forget about all that because the Buckeyes don't even look like much of a Top 25 team presently, especially after losing their third straight game to a ranked opponent, losing at home to #16 Wisconsin on Sunday, 63-60.
The main problem with Ohio State seems to be one of depth. They simply don't have any, as evidenced by the floor time put in by their starters and the lack of punch coming off the bench. In their loss to the Badgers, five Buckeye players - all starters - logged 30 minutes or more and accounted for all but one of Ohio State points. Of the five, Sullinger scored only eight and guard Lenzell Smith Jr. didn't score at all in his 30 minutes.
Worse yet is the fact that the Buckeyes - at home - could not even match a team doing essentially the same thing, as four Badgers logged 34 minutes or more and 47 of their 63 points came from just three players.
One of those Badgers doing most of the scoring was Jordan Taylor, whose 19 points were high for the team. Taylor, an all-conference guard averaging 14.3 points per game, was 6-for-8 from the field and 6-for-7 from the line, contributing five rebounds and four assists.
Another glaring issue for #8 (not for long) Ohio State is their foul shooting. If they had done just a little better than their 10 of 19 at the stripe against Wisconsin, they would have won the game. Poor foul shooting won't cut it in the Big Ten and it is a pretty reliable indicator for an early exit from the NCAA tournament.
The Buckeyes dropped into a tie with Michigan for second place in the conference, the two 11-5 teams chasing 13-3 Michigan State with Wisconsin a game further back at 10-6. With two games left in the regular season, the Buckeyes' chances of catching the Spartans are slim. They would have to win at Minnesota and Michigan State just to tie, and the #6 Spartans would also have to lose at #23 Indiana.