“The question, which will start to be answered Wednesday, is how a similar reversal in fortunes will affect the Buckeyes. Winners of five straight and 10 of their last 11 games, they climbed into the national rankings for the first time since the tail end of Jae’Sean and Keita Bates-Diop’s freshman seasons.”
As the No. 22 Ohio State Buckeyes travel to Rosemont, Ill. tonight, not only will they be looking to remain perfect in conference play this season, but they will also be facing off against a cautionary tale in the Northwestern Wildcats.
Last year, Northwestern was the darling of the conference, going 21-10 and making the Big Dance for the first time in school history. However, as the Buckeyes come calling, the Chris Collins-coached Wildcats are sputtering at 11-8, despite retaining the majority of their NCAA Tournament squad.
For OSU coach Chris Holtmann, the situation is somewhat different as his shocking turn-around of the team has come in year one on the job. However, like Collins, the new head Buckeye will need to guard against complacency as his squad sees its stature rise.
“You can’t lose sight of the things that you did when you were the hunter, when you were trying to gain that respect, that chip on your shoulder, that edge, that competitive spirit,” Collins said on the B1G teleconference this week.
Whether or not the Buckeyes are able to maintain the level of competitiveness that got them into the Top-25 for the first time in three years throughout the rest of the regular season is yet to be seen. However, Holtmann seems to understand that now that they have proven that they are contenders in the Big Ten, the rest of the conference slate will likely become even more challenging than it already would have been.
“I think our guys are going to need to be prepared for that,” Holtmann said. “We’ll see if we can handle that. We’ve got a really full week ahead of us, but given where we’re at, that’s to be expected. We’re going to get a lot of peoples’ best shot.”
“J.T. Barrett has been one of the early stars at the start of the 2018 East-West Shrine Game Week.”
Look, I would bet dollars to doughnuts that J.T. Barrett will never be an All-Pro quarterback in the NFL. However, I certainly would not bet against his ability to turn himself into a QB with a long and productive career at the next level, even if it is mostly as a sturdy backup. With his years of starting experience against— and with— top-tier talent, working with multiple offensive coordinators, and his inherent leadership and football IQ, the three-time OSU captain has plenty to offer an NFL team.
That being typed, I also wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up playing in Canada, or on Ohio State or Texas’ coaching staff next year as a graduate assistant. The rest of this week, and then the eventual combine and pro day, will be big in determining what happens next for #16, but no matter how well he does in these controlled environments, scouts will also have to contend with his more than three years of film as a starting quarterback. How they reconcile his performance in a zone-read offense versus what he shows in drills and pro-style exhibition game offenses, is yet to be determined.
Also apparently doing well in Shrine Game practices are Damon Webb and Chris Worley. Both are drawing interest from scouts and looking to move up in the draft rankings.
B1G Player of the Year front-runner?@OhioStateHoops' @KBD_33 is playing extremely good basketball right now, and the numbers highlight his outstanding efficiency on offense: pic.twitter.com/khHMfTVFQC— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) January 17, 2018
If you’ve watched the basketball Buckeyes play at all this year, you know that Keita Bates-Diop is a stud, but when you break down the advanced statistics as the above BTN video does, it is mind-blowing to realize just how efficient KBD has been.
The redshirt junior is averaging 1.2 points per personal possession on the season, but in the first six games of OSU’s Big Ten schedule, he’s actually improved upon that to 1.3 per, and that includes games against two of the other three B1G teams in the top 20 of KenPom’s ratings.
My grandfather always told me, “Expect the worst, and hope for the best,” so I’m not going to hold my breath that KBD will be able to maintain this improved level of productivity and efficiency throughout the entire conference schedule, but, assuming he stays healthy, he’s given us no reason to expect otherwise this season.
STICK TO SPORTS
- Believe it or not, North and South Korea are going to march and compete together at the Olympics.
- A meteor lit up the Michigan sky last night. Check it out.
- So, apparently Justin Timberlake served bugs at his album launch party.
- Be cool. Your city is watching you...
- Sara Bareilles and Jason Mraz shared a duet at their first curtain call on Broadway together.