When you read the title of this article, you might be extremely confused. You may be thinking, didn’t Ohio State already lose to Indiana, Wisconsin, Purdue AND Rutgers? Yes, you are right. However, I am confident that this Ohio State men’s basketball team can beat any other Big Ten team on any given day. Read on and start believing!
Let’s start off by tackling each one of Ohio State’s conference losses and how they could (or perhaps even should) have won every one of them.
Jan. 6 | Indiana 67 - Ohio State 51 in Bloomington, Ind.
Their first loss was to Indiana. This was a game in which every single Buckeye was ice cold on offense. Malakai Branham scored a team-high 13 points, but everyone else had an off night.
The Buckeyes’ 51 points were a season low and they shot 29.6 percent from 3-point range. Zed Key scored two points, Justin Ahrens was 2-for-6 from 3-point range and E.J. Liddell only put up 11 points (he did have nine rebounds, though). Can you sense a pattern here?
Ohio State simply couldn’t shoot. Their lack of 3-point production was alarming. Joey Brunk had more points than Key — that’s clearly an issue. If the Buckeyes had even just a few of their players heat up, they could’ve beaten the Hoosiers. Clearly, they are capable of putting up the points, scoring 95 against Northwestern the following game. They simply had an off night.
Jan. 13 | Wisconsin 78 - Ohio State 68 in Madison, Wisc.
Moving on to the frustrating loss to Wisconsin. This one is pretty self-explanatory, because the Bucks had beaten the Badgers just a month earlier, 73-55. Obviously, they can do it. So, what changed this time around, besides the fact that now Wisconsin had home court advantage?
The Buckeyes had a slow start in the first half and had a terrible 3-point performance. Wisconsin took an early 18-7 lead, then stretched it to 40-27 at the half. The Buckeyes had a nice 8-0 run to start the second half and cut the lead to 56-49, but Wisconsin heated up again, and Ohio State couldn’t catch back up.
Again, the 3-point shooting was one to forget. The Bucks were 3-of-19 from 3-point range, shooting 15.8 percent compared to the Badgers’ 43.5 percent. This was the beginning of Justin Ahren’s freezing cold stretch — he only made one three-pointer, totaling five points for the game. To conclude, if the Buckeyes jumped out early like they did the first time they played Wisco and made a few more threes, a win was definitely within reach.
Jan. 30 | Purdue 81 - Ohio State 78 in West Lafayette, Ind.
Next, we have to discuss the absolute heartbreaker of a loss to Purdue. 0.6 seconds was all Jaden Ivey needed to clinch a buzzer-beater for his Boilermakers. Ohio State, with 0.6 seconds left, was overwhelmingly favored to win. But alas, Ivey proved to be too clutch.
A positive takeaway from this game is that the Buckeyes don’t quit. They were down 52-32 with 14:35 remaining in the second half, yet they stormed back to take the lead with less than a second left. This heart that Ohio State demonstrated will prove to be pivotal once March Madness starts, and it could take them deep in the tournament.
Both Liddell and Branham put up 20 points in this game, and all around the Buckeyes played pretty well, besides (again, notice a theme) the three-point shooting. Purdue shot 47 percent from beyond the arc while Ohio State shot 31 percent. This game was lost on a buzzer-beater, which shows that the Bucks can hang in there, and possibly beat, the current No. 3 team in the nation.
Feb. 9 | Rutgers 66 - Ohio State 64 in Piscataway, N.J.
Lastly, the loss to Rutgers. Good ‘ole Rutgers. Not to defend the Buckeyes’ loss, but I believe the Scarlet Knights are SEVERELY underrated. They upset Purdue on Dec. 9, beat Michigan on Jan. 4, No. 17 Michigan St. on Feb. 5 and No. 14 Wisconsin this past Saturday! They have built up a nice resume for themselves.
However, this does not excuse Ohio State’s loss, considering Rutgers is unranked. The Buckeyes played well. Their shooting was good, especially from beyond the arc. That is, until the final 3:48 of the game. Rutgers defense did not allow the Bucks to score during that time frame, with Ohio State missing their final seven shots.
Simply put, the Buckeyes just needed to close out this game. They failed to do so, and as a result, Rutgers stormed back to win. If Ohio State’s shooting didn’t go cold in the final minutes, there’s no question they would have won this game.
There is my defense for the four conference losses Ohio State has suffered this season. I truly believe they could’ve beaten every single one of this teams, and can beat all of the ones I didn’t mention. I am very excited for the Illinois matchup on Feb. 24, but first, the Bucks have must-wins against Minnesota and Indiana this week.
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