Tuesday night's game between top-ranked Ohio State and No. 12 Purdue - freshman phenom Jared Sullinger vs. the Moore/Johnson combo - had the makings for a classic Big Ten battle. Instead, it was a one-sided affair in favor of the Buckeyes as they embarrassed the Boilermakers 87-64.
It was the first time this season that six players - Buford,
Sullinger, Diebler,Thomas, Craft and Lighty - scored in double figures
for the Buckeyes. The win also moved Ohio State to 21-0 on the season,
giving them the nation's longest active winning streak (21 games).
Meaning it's time to ask: can the Ohio State Buckeyes go undefeated the rest of the way?
History says it will be tough, since the last Ohio State team to go undefeated during the regular season was the
led team in 1961. Coach Matta's only other notable undefeated start was
in 2006 when his team started out 11-0, finishing with four losses by
the end of the season. Not even the or led teams, in '07 and '10 respectively, could go undefeated.
Is this Ohio State team coach Matta's best team yet?
A strong case can be made that there was addition by subtraction when
the Buckeyes lost Turner. That's not to say that he was overrated by
any means. However, when you rely on a guy as much as they did,
sometimes team chemistry and roles can become an issue. Oh yeah, it also
helps to add a big guy like Jared Sullinger.
It's hard to make a case for any team over the '07 Buckeyes, because
that team was flat out unbelievable. But this Ohio State team has a
similar freshman combo with PG Aaron Craft and Jared Sullinger. They also have an x-factor in wingman Deshaun Thomas, who is being overlooked as one of the best freshman in the country.
What makes this team so scary is the blend of young talent and
experience - seniors David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and Dallas Lauderdale;
something the '07 team did not possess.
only is Ohio State in an elite class in terms of school history, they
are flirting with the best teams in NCAA history. Since 1939, there have
been 24 teams to go undefeated in the regular season - seven of them
went on to win the national championship.
However, it has been seven years since a team -'04 St. Joseph's - has
finished the regular season undefeated. Unlike St. Joseph's , Ohio
State doesn't have the luxury of playing in the A-10 Conference. Not to
take anything away from the Hawks, but I think everyone would agree that
the Big Ten is much more competitive than the A-10. Aside from the Big
East, the Big Ten could be argued as the toughest conference in the
With remaining games at Minnesota, against Wisconsin (twice), at Purdue,
and against Illinois, this team has it's work cut out for them to go
undefeated. The toughest may be their game against Wisconsin at the Kohl
Center, where Thad Matta has never won.
Also, don't be foolish to think, based on Tuesday night's outcome,
that a road game against Purdue will be a cakewalk. This Boilermaker
team is still top-15 and will be motivated to prove themselves in the
It is always hard to go undefeated because once you get a streak
going, teams put a target on your back. For this reason, it may be in
Ohio State's best interest to experience a few losses before the regular
season ends. It would be a good learning experience for the freshmen.
More importantly, it could alleviate the added pressure of going
unbeaten; which could help this team focus on the ultimate goal of
winning a National Championship.