Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. He filed this report after Sunday’s Big Ten Tournament title game between Ohio State and Wisconsin. You can follow him on Twitter at @walkerRcarey.
Three Key Takeaways.
- If you like offense, this was not your game. When only one team gets to the 50-point marker, you know the game is lacking in offense and that was certainly the case Sunday when the Buckeyes and Badgers battled for the Big Ten Tournament title. The two strongest defensive teams in the conference lived up to their reputations by defending hard and making things very difficult for the opposing offenses. What was pretty amazing about this game is that Wisconsin went the final 7:01 without recording a field goal and it still managed to finish with a higher shooting percentage (39.1%) than Ohio State (38.5%). Ben Brust, Wisconsin’s leading scorer, was held to just six points on only six shot attempts. Timely three-point shooting helped the Badgers get past Indiana on Saturday, but they were not able to get the same performance Sunday as they were held to a 3-of-18 performance from deep.
- Aaron Craft is a pleasure to watch. The Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player only finished the game with nine points, but he truly provided the Buckeyes with the gritty play and leadership necessary to bring home the title. It is quite apparent how smart Craft truly is, as the junior point guard plays his position with great intelligence. It often seems like he is a step ahead of everyone on the opposing team. While Craft is a key player for the Buckeyes on the offensive end of the court, his presence is even more valuable on the defensive end where he is usually called upon to lock down on the other team’s most explosive player. He did a fantastic job on Brust Sunday afternoon and one would imagine that he will have more solid defensive performances when the NCAA Tournament commences later this week.
- Ohio State’s hot streak should have its fans feeling really good as it enters the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes finished their regular season by reeling off five consecutive victories and by winning three games in three days in Chicago, they have now won eight consecutive games. Hot teams are known to be dangerous when the NCAA Tournament begins and the Buckeyes definitely qualify as a hot team. After months of fairly inconsistent play, the Buckeyes have really tightened up their game and now seem like a team that advance very far in the NCAA Tournament. Thad Matta has done an excellent job in getting his squad to right the ship and become a legitimate contender for a national title.
Star of the Game. Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State. In a game where offense was definitely at a premium, the Buckeyes got a solid scoring performance from their star junior forward. Thomas finished the game with 17 points and his late free-throw shooting allowed the Buckeyes to remain ahead of Wisconsin. Thomas catches some criticism for shooting a lot, but there is no denying that he is an outstanding scoring forward.