OSU Mens Bball Schedules Perennial Power

According to a report from Jeff Goodman of ESPN Ohio State will play Memphis in 2015 at a neutral site in Miami, Florida. Here is part of that report…

The Hall of Fame will debut a new event in Miami in 2015 in which Kentucky will play South Florida and Memphis will face Ohio State, an industry source told ESPN.

The neutral site doubleheader will be played at the American Airlines Arena in Miami on Nov. 27, 2015. The format of the event is that each host school will play three home games in addition to one neutral site contest.

This will add another marquee match-up for Coach Matta and an early season challenge to help prepare them for the B1G season and post season.

Buckeyes Land A Big Time Shooter

4star_recruit_iconbasketball_iconThad Matta is on fire right now. He has landed a couple of big time transfers and signed some impressive classes. The one thing Matta missed most this year was scoring ability. He didn’t have a go to shooter and it hurt the team immensely. They also were missing big guys with athletic ability and toughness. Hopefully he has filled both those needs with his transfer signings and with the 2014 and 2015 basketball classes. With today’s newest commit what OSU got was a brilliant shooter who can find his own shot. So let’s take a look at what Thad landed…

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Austin Grandstaff committed to Ohio State earlier today and made the announcement on Twitter…

Austin Grandstaff is a 6’5″ 190 lbs high 4 star Shooting Guard from Rockwall, Texas. Every scouting service out there says the same things about Austin… He is a prolific scorer who can shoot the ball from anywhere on the court and can dibble past you to take it the hole. They also say he lacks good defensive skills but if anyone can help him with that it is Thad Matta and his staff. He is exactly what OSU needs and takes OSUs 2015 class to #2 nationally early on. 247sports ranks him a 4 star and the 38th best player in the country. ESPN ranks him a 4 star and the 41st best player in the country. Rivals ranks him a 4 star and the 30th best player in the country. Scout ranks him a 4 star and the 12th best SG in the country.

You can follow Austin on Twitter by clicking @AustinGstaff1

Thad Matta & The Buckeyes Land Big Man Thompson

Ohio State has picked up seven-foot Virginia Tech transfer Trevor Thompson, according to ESPN Basketball insider Jeff Goodman.

The Buckeyes have been in the running for Thompson for several weeks now and Ohio State was speculated to be one of his top choices in his college search. Thompson averaged 5 PPG and 4.7 RPG over 30 games for the Hokies this past season. Due to transfer rules, Thompson will sit out the upcoming season and will have three years of eligibility left starting in the 2015-2016 season. This is a great pickup for Thad Matta’s squad after clearly lacking size in the front court this past season. Here’s a taste of what Thompson can bring to the team:

Thompson himself also took to Twitter to announce the news:

Thompson is ready. Are you ready for him Buckeye Nation?

Aaron Craft Joins Twitter

Well after years of dodging it, Buckeye Nation’s favorite point guard has joined Twitter. Today Aaron Craft, after four very successful years at The Ohio State University on and off the court, sent out his first two tweets:

Definitely have to agree with that last tweet. I know I’ll always remember him for always playing to the final buzzer and leaving everything out on the court. And for his amazing ability to solve a Rubik’s cube at mach speed. If you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow the school’s all-time steals leader and future doctor.

B1G Tournament Game 1 (Purdue) Semi-live Blog

Our basketball coverage has been a little light lately (totally my fault) but we love Buckeye Basketball just as much as anyone, so I’m hoping to live-blog as much of the B1G Tournament as I can, starting with today’s game against Purdue.

After a quick start from Purdue, Ohio State’s defense tightened up and they converted a couple transition buckets to pull even.

Ohio State 11 Purdue 9

With five minutes left in the first half, Ohio State and Purdue have gone back and forth with neither team able to pull away. Both teams have made a couple mini runs but no one has been able to sustain any momentum.

Ohio State 21 Purdue 19

And as soon as I say no one can pull away, Lenzelle Smith Jr. hits a three pointer and Sam Thompson connects on a nice little floater on the baseline.

Ohio State 26 Purdue 19

Of course, as soon as I update with that, the Boilermakers go on a mini run to pull themselves right back up alongside Ohio State. LaQuniton Ross’ jumper keeps the lead to three at the half, Ohio State 30 Purdue 27.

Purdue maintains their hot shooting with nine points to OSU’s four early, Ohio State 34 Purdue 36.

Meanwhile, Ross is starting to have another March renaissance as he carries Ohio State on his shoulder.

After Purdue went up 3, Ohio State’s defense and Aaron Craft specifically, decided to clamp things down while Ross makes an awkward running hook to put the Buckeyes up, 45-44

I’m just going to throw this Twitter worthy statement as the Buckeyes go up 3: March Craft > Nov-Feb Craft. The same thing can be said about LaQuinton Ross.

Ohio State 54 Purdue 51

Aaron Craft doing Aaron Craft things.

It’s not supposed to be like this, but 2013-14 has just not been Ohio State’s basketball season. With less than 90 seconds left against Purdue, Ohio State clings to a one-point lead. Let’s see if the Buckeyes can hold on.

Buckeyes hold on to that one point lead, finishing off Purdue’s upset bid. The Buckeyes are going to have to shoot better from the free throw line and behind the three point line if they want to run with the hot Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Ohio State 63 Purdue 61

Penn State Preview

OSU LogoOhio State vs. Penn State
Bryce Jordan Center, State College, PA
Feb. 27th, 2014 at 7:00PM ET (ESPN 2)

While the Penn State Nittany Lions (13-14, 4-10 Big Ten) are floating around the Mason-Dixon Line, they’ve shown a lot of improvement this season under head coach Pat Chambers. It’s safe to say the Buckeyes won’t take the Nittany Lions lightly, as they lost in overtime back in Columbus on January 29th. They’ve also been competitive in a number of games they’ve lost. With the one-two punch of D.J. Newbill (17.4 points per game) and Tim Frazier (16.0 points per game), Penn State is dangerous every time out.

One aspect of their game to keep in mind is their lack of assists per game. They only average 11.6 per game which is 264th in the nation. Most of their scoring comes in the isolation or dribble drive fashion. Newbill and Frazier are isolation type of players. I think this plays into the strength of Ohio State’s defense. Craft will not leave Frazier’s pocket when he puts the ball on the floor. Ohio State will take their chances with Craft playing man to man defense.

On the flip side, the Buckeyes come in on a bit of a roll; winning 7 of their last 9 games. That’s a far cry from their midseason struggles when they lost 4 in a row from January 7th through the 20th. LaQuinton Ross (14.3 points per game) and Lenzelle Smith Jr. (11.8 points per game) have both picked up their scoring. By doing so, the Buckeyes have been picking up some big wins. Penn State won’t roll over at home, so it’ll be important for Ohio State to hit some shots early on the road. Guys like Ross and Smith need to see the ball go through the basket early on.

Thad Matta has his crew playing well going into March. He knows this team must grind out games defensively, push the pace when the opportunity presents itself and knock down some perimeter shots with no true inside scoring threat. I like Ohio State to edge Penn State slightly, pulling away in the last 2 minutes, 67-60.

Minnesota vs. Ohio State, Take 2

OSU LogoMinnesota at Ohio State
Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Feb. 22nd, 2014 at 6:00PM ET (BTN)

The first time these two teams met this season, Minnesota came in unranked with a 13-4 record. Ohio State was 15-2, ranked #11 but had just came off two losses to Michigan State and Iowa.

Minnesota would go on to upset the Buckeyes, handing Ohio State its third loss that was just he beginning of a slide that had people wondering if Ohio State was even a tournament team.

Since that game in January, Ohio State has won six of the next nine games while Minnesota would only find success in three of their next nine (even though one of those wins was a solid victory over Wisconsin). Divergent paths, indeed. Minnesota is now the team in need of another signature win to bolster any kind of tournament resume they can. Ohio State twice in one season would be quite the feather in their cap.

Not much has changed from the preview that Chris K did earlier. Minnesota is still going to rely on Andre and Austin Hollins to lead the way against Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross of the Buckeyes.

Look for Ross to have a big game after his ejection in Ohio State’s victory over Northwestern. Thad Matta (and I’m sure Ross as well) wasn’t proud of the outburst and I’m sure has been riding Ross. This is a chance to LaQuinton to show he’s moved on and is able to concentrate on getting his game right.

Game tips off at 6 on Big Ten Network

Ohio State Dominates Second Half, Beats Northwestern 76-60

OSU LogoNorthwestern hadn’t beaten Ohio State in the last 8 tries and hadn’t won in Columbus since 1977. It appeared in the early going that they might have a chance, even taking a 9 point lead over the Buckeyes at one point in the first half. Then, of course, Ohio State got going. With Northwestern up 25-16 with a little over 7 minutes left in the first half, Ohio State closed on a 21-8 run to take a 4 point lead at the half. Ohio State outscored Northwestern 39-27 in the second half to beat the Wildcats, now 12-14 and 5-8 in conference play, 76-60. Ohio State improved their record to 21-6 overall and 8-6 in conference play.

LaQuinton Ross lead the Buckeyes in points with 16 to go along with 6 rebounds. Ross also led Ohio State in ejections as he was thrown out for shoving Northwestern’s Nikola Cerina and Drew Crawford. He appeared to be coming to the aid of teammate Amir Williams who was being driven out of bounds by Cerina and was a couple of inches away from being on the business end of Cerina’s punch. While no shove or punch should be viewed as a positive, Ross’ show of emotion for his teammate was something that appeared to be lacking with this team just a few short weeks ago.
As I have written about several times here, this team goes as Lenzelle Smith Jr. goes. And go he did. He had a double double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. He will continue to be the steering wheel to Aaron Craft’s engine and Ross’ gas pedal as this team makes to drive towards the Final Four.

Northwestern got an outstanding effort from Drew Crawford as he went for a game high 22 points on 8-13 shooting and appeared to be unguardable at times. Though it does not appear this will be the year Northwestern makes to NCAA tournament, head coach Chris Collins has a couple of pieces to make a run in the next couple of years.

Illinois Basketball Preview

OSU LogoThe Ohio State Buckeyes are doing something this Saturday that they haven’t had to do since the beginning of the month. When the Buckeyes(19-6, 6-6) take on the Fighting Illini of Illinois, they will be coming off of a loss. Thad Matta’s club is hoping to rebound from a home loss to rival Michigan on Tuesday. He is also hoping the outcome of the game on Saturday is the same as when Ohio State beat The Fighting Illini(14-11, 3-9) 62-55 at Value City Arena on Jan 23rd.

In order for Ohio State to come out on the winning side of the scoreboard, they will need to contain the Illini’s leading scorer, Rayvonte Rice. He is averaging 16.8 points a game but Ohio State was able to limit the sharpshooter to exactly 0 points. Don’t think for a second that Rice is not fully aware of his shortcomings last time against the Buckeyes. One thing Ohio State will want to keep an eye on is the production of Joseph Bertrand who was able to find a lot of success against the Buckeyes last contest with 19 points. He almost single handedly kept the Illini within striking distance until the final moments.

With Matta’s club seemingly having righted the ship a bit with road wins against Wisconsin and Iowa to go along with a home win against Purdue, the home loss to Michigan might have let doubt creep back in. This teams needs confidence in order to succeed and seem to have gotten it in Lenzelle Smith Jr. With LaQuinton Ross being the one constant that Matta can count on, the rest of the bunch have been as up and down as a roller coaster. Smith Jr. has provided the spark to get the Buckeyes back on track. His performance will most certainly dictate the outcome of the game against Illinois. If he scores in double figures, the Buckeyes will be able to score against Illini and win the game. I look for Illinois to have a hot shooting streak playing at home and coming away with a 70-62 win.

Ohio State Falls To Michigan, 70-60

OSU LogoApparently Ohio St basketball has a better grasp of statistics than logic. If a team goes one for nine in the first half on three point attempts in tonight’s home game against Michigan, logic would suggest “it’s just not your night—lay off the threes.” Apparently the players and coaches avoid what goes on in the Philosophy Department and instead think, “hey, we don’t shoot threes at 10%, right? So we will hit them in bunches.” Early in the second half the math theory gained some currency as the Bucks stretched out a one point lead to seven or eight when they went two of three from past the arc. But alas, they ended the game with about the same ineptitude.

Which was a shame because the Buckeyes had great success in the paint early on and seemed to regain the momentum by going inside again before several killer turnovers and numerous Michigan offensive rebounds decided the game with a 70-60 Michigan win. On a night when the Buckeyes got almost nothing from the bench, La Qiunton Ross (24 points) and Amir Williams (7 points, all a bonus) were making a difference scoring inside and the defense was absolutely outstanding. This was a game the Buckeyes easily could have won had they not gotten so quick to pull the long ball trigger. So the Buckeye winning streak stalls at three and Thad Matta loses for the first time to Michigan at the Schott.