No one expected too many points from the Ohio State – Wisconsin Big Ten Tournament final, but still, not even reaching 100 points combined was a little bit surprising, as defense and terrible offense dictated the afternoon, with the Buckeyes winning, as usual, in the final of the conference tournament.
We definitely wanted to leave here with some hardware, but moving forward, we’ve got the NCAA tournament. It’s a bigger thing, and I’m looking forward to that.
With both teams assured of a place in the NCAA tournament, it was mostly about pride, and maybe improving some standings. A title is a title, and both teams weren’t too far from winning the regular season title in the Big Ten, although Indiana were a tad too difficult and stable along the way, falling to Wisconsin twice this season, but still earning a number one seed in the tournament.
The Badgers and Ohio State? They’re both in the same region, the West Regional, with Ohio State getting the number 2 seed and Wisconsin getting the number 5 seed in another demonstration of just how good the Big Ten seemed to be this season.
We got beat physically inside a little bit, so I think that told a lot on the offensive glass.
And that was the understatement of the game – physicality. Ohio State are an excellent defensive team, maybe the best in the nation. They shot just as bad as Wisconsin did (both teams under 39% from the field), but they crashed the boards, won the offensive rebound battle 10-5 and in general 37-26, enjoying an advantage in size, and in something else.
Individual talent never hurts, and the Buckeyes got 17 points from their best player, Deshaun Thomas, also adding 7 rebounds. He was the only player on the team to score in double figures in the 50-43 win, with the Badgers also enjoying only one player with 10 points; Traevon Jackson, as both teams combined for a terrible 4-34 from beyond the arc.
It wasn’t the first time this season Wisconsin were part of such a low scoring affair – they lost to Michigan State 49-47 in the beginning of January, only two weeks after they beat Nebraska 47-41. While it’s great to see pressure, defense and intensity from both teams, there is a problem college basketball is facing with its scoring, especially when the nation’s top conference has so many teams that struggle to complete the task.
Hopefully for both teams, the meat grinder that was the Big Ten will make life in the big world a little bit easier. Ohio State are usually a much better team on offense, shooting 45.6% from the field and averaging just under 70 points per game. If Thomas can get a little help from Aaron Craft in scoring, this team has the potential to reach another final four.
For Wisconsin, it’s going to be about finding someone who can consistently score at all. Ben Brust is their top scorer with 11.2 points per game, but this team relies so much on streaky shooting and their utmost confidence in stopping opponents. Without home court to feed off, there’s a good chance that this kind of basketball won’t be going very far in the tournament.