College Basketball Nation: Ohio State

Behind the box scores: Saturday's games

February, 12, 2012
A scan of the college basketball box scores each night guarantees all kinds of statistical oddities and standout performances. Here are some we found from Saturday.

Indiana State 78, Southern Illinois 68
Indiana State made all 12 of its 3-point attempts Saturday, the most 3-pointers without a miss in a single game in NCAA history. The previous record for most 3s without a miss was nine, done by Minnesota against Penn State on Jan. 11, 2009.

Lipscomb 99, Stetson 91 (OT)
Lipscomb scored 25 points in the extra session, one shy of the NCAA Division I record for points in an overtime period. The record of 26 was done by Vermont on Jan. 24, 1998, against Hartford.

Duke 73, Maryland 55
Duke’s Miles Plumlee had 22 rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench, the most rebounds by a bench player since Sean May had 24 against Duke on March 6, 2005 (May did not start that game because it was North Carolina’s Senior Day). Plumlee is the first player this season with at least 20 rebounds in fewer than 30 minutes of playing time.

Michigan State 58, Ohio State 48
Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger had 17 points, 16 rebounds and 10 turnovers in the Buckeyes’ loss Saturday. It’s the first "triple-double" using points, rebounds and turnovers in Division I this season. Jerrell Williams of La Salle had the last one on Jan. 19, 2011, against Duquesne.

Kansas 81, Oklahoma State 66
The Jayhawks’ Jeff Withey had 18 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocks in the win. He’s the first player to reach all three of those levels in the same game since VCU’s Larry Sanders put up the exact same line on March 9, 2009, in the CAA championship game against George Mason.

Texas 75, Kansas State 64
Texas attempted 48 free throws to Kansas State’s 12. That free throw differential of 36 is the largest in a game involving a Big Six team this season and the third-largest overall. Texas’ 48 free throw attempts are the second most by a Big Six team on the season (Washington attempted 59 on Jan. 10 against Seattle).

Texas Tech 65, Oklahoma 47
Oklahoma scored just six points in the paint, the fewest points in the paint in a game by a Big Six team this season.

St. Bonaventure 69, Duquesne 48
Florida Atlantic 86, North Texas 81 (2OT)
St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson scored 21 points and grabbed 23 rebounds in the Bonnies’ win, and North Texas’ Tony Mitchell scored 22 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in the Mean Green’s double-overtime loss. They became just the sixth and seventh players this season to record a 20-20 game. Nicholson’s 23 rebounds are the second most in a game this season, trailing only UAB's Cameron Moore, who had 24 on Dec. 28.

Seattle 100, Longwood 99 (OT)
Seattle’s Chad Rasmussen was 6-for-17 from the field in the Redhawks’ win, with all of his attempts coming from 3-point range. That is the most 3-pointers attempted in a game without attempting a 2-point field goal.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff 64, Southern 58
Trillion of the Night: Jamar Harris of Arkansas-Pine Bluff played 12 minutes without accumulating a single stat in his team’s 64-58 win over Southern.

Previewing Friday in Milwaukee

March, 19, 2010
MILWAUKEE -- Curse? What curse?

If Ohio State's Evan Turner looms over this pod -- he is the best player, his is the best team -- he looms even larger on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. Turner is one of the four athletes on SI's regional NCAA tournament covers. Naturally, at open practices Saturday, talk of the fabled "SI jinx" wasn't far behind.

For what it's worth, Turner isn't concerned.

"I never heard of jinx until a couple of days ago," Turner, who leads Ohio State in points, rebounds, assists and steals, said. "I'm the type of kid -- you make your own destiny, will yourself into the situation. I'm not worrying about the jinx, but worrying about what my teammates and I have been doing, which is playing Ohio State basketball. Everything happens for a reason."

Fair enough. But what of his opponents, the famed Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara? They're not feeling the whole jinx thing, either. Senior guard James Powell injected a little obvious -- but welcome -- common sense into the discussion.

"Who knows," Powell said. "I mean, the only curse I know of is the Madden curse."

"When it's March, anything is possible," Powell continued. "I'm not looking at the Sports Illustrated or anything like that. There's a hundred other players on that cover. If everybody was cursed then there would be no winner."

Well said, James! In the spirit of Mr. Powell's brand of existentialism, then, let's preview the games on hand in Milwaukee Friday.

West Region

No. 11 Minnesota vs. No. 6 Xavier

Key to the game: Who controls the pace? Tubby Smith and the Gophers prefer to play a very Big Ten-esque style -- slow, plodding, obsessed with defense and rebounding. The Musketeers prefer to get up and down, allowing guard Jordan Crawford and mates to take easy shots in transition. Which style wins out? Can Minnesota control the pace? Or will the Gophers get left in Xavier's considerable dust?

Player to watch: The aforementioned Crawford leads the Musketeeers in points; few scorers in the country are quite so confident in their talents. This can lead to the occasional bad shot, though, and in the tournament, too many of those can cost you dearly.

Who has the edge: Push. Cop-out, I know, but I don't want to go so far as to say that Minnesota has the edge here -- just that the Gophers are still a bit underrated (the teams are barely distinguishable in Pomeroy's adjusted efficiency rankings) and could push -- sorry -- Xavier to the very end. Expect a close one.

No. 14 Oakland vs. No. 3 Pittsburgh

Key to the game: Can the Golden Grizzlies defend? Oakland got to the tournament with an offense that ranked among the 100 most efficient in the country; its defense, on the other hand, couldn't crack the top 200. If Oakland can't find a way to limit Pittsburgh's Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker, this could be over in a hurry.

Player to watch: Ashton Gibbs. Gibbs could play poorly and Pitt can still survive ... but don't think Pittsburgh won't want to get their leading scorer off on the right foot to start the tournament.

Who has the edge: Pittsburgh. Barring a really poor shooting performance by the Panthers, Oakland simply won't have the horses to keep up with a good-but-not-great Big East team.

Midwest Region

No. 10 Georgia Tech vs. No. 7 Oklahoma State

Key to the game: Georgia Tech's bigs. Oklahoma State is a team that thrives on its perimeter talent -- specifically All-American candidate James Anderson, not to mention guards Obi Muonelo and Keiton Page -- but all the talk here Thursday revolved around just how Oklahoma State's undermatched big men planned to stop future NBAers Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors down low. Can Anderson and company do enough to offset Tech's advantage on the block?

Player to watch: Favors. The big man has contributed throughout the Jackets' season, but the hype surrounding his future NBA career has consistently exceeded his performance. What better stage to prove the haters wrong (and to lure in a few more NBA scouts)? (Honorable mention: James Anderson -- enjoy him while he lasts.)

Who has the edge: Georgia Tech has the superior talent. But it's hard to trust them to put it together. Anderson provides the edge Oklahoma State needs as the Cowboys shoot over Tech's big men on the way to a victory.

No. 15 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 2 Ohio State

Key to the game: How do you stop Evan Turner? Answer: you don't. But you can, if you're very careful, stop his teammates. Let Turner get his buckets, refuse to help on defense, and stop the barrage of 3-pointers that Ohio State usually launches when Turner overwhelms the game. If UC Santa Barbara can throw some of what they call their "confusing" defense at Turner and the Buckeyes, they might be able to slow OSU down just enough to hang around.

Player to watch: Turner is the obvious selection here, not only because he's OSU's most important player, but because he's the sort of rare college talent that you have to cherish before he rushes off and gets paid the millions of dollars he deserves for the talent he displays. Like Anderson above, enjoy every minute of this Evan Turner postseason. Time's running out.

Who has the edge: Um, Ohio State. But if this tournament has proven anything, it's that crazy things happen in the NCAA tournament. Don't bust out your bracket Sharpie just yet.
MILWAUKEE -- Shedding distractions and coming together as a team? There's an app for that.

OK, so it's analog. And it's the sort of strategy that would make even the most ardent Luddite recoil in horror. And, OK, it's not actually an "app" at all. It's called the off switch. And Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt has his finger on the button.

Before the ACC tournament, Georgia Tech adopted a team "suggestion" by Hewitt that the Jackets relinquish their cell phones before the tournament to help each other focus on the task at hand. Georgia Tech made it to the ACC final, so the Jackets are trying the cell phone ban again:

"I felt as if we were a family for the first time," senior D'Andre Bell told the AP Wednesday. "Trust. More selfless moments out there on the floor. ...

"I wasn't surprised at all because anytime we were at the dinner table all you could hear was texting, buttons being pushed, looking down at the phone," Bell said. "Now it's fun arguments or insightful discussions about who we think is better in sports or where we came from or why we think a certain way. We really got a chance to learn about each other."

It's either a shaky look at the Jackets or a sad commentary on the isolating effect of modern technology -- probably both -- that it took this long for the hyper-talented team to "learn about each other," but late is always better than never in college basketball, and the Jackets picked a fine time to coalesce as a team. Georgia Tech will have a tough but winnable match up in its first round game vs. No. 7-seed Oklahoma State Friday. If Georgia Tech wins, they're likely to face No. 2 seed Ohio State, one of the six or so teams capable of winning the entire NCAA tournament.

Speaking of the Buckeyes, Ohio State's Evan Turner wasn't quite as impressed with the no-cell-phone rule. He'll keep his minutes and text messages, thank you very much.

"Not really, Turner said, when asked whether he felt a similar rule would help the Buckeyes. "I don't understand what that would gain. But we do things different here. Every program does different things. And if it helps them focus, and if it's a team thing, they're all doing it together, that's a great thing."

Great though it may be, Turner will lose one of his cell phone contacts in the process.

"I talked to my boy Iman Shampert before so I probably can't talk to him anymore, I guess," Turner said.

Judging from the cheers Turner got during OSU's just-concluded open practice -- a batch of kids in the front row were especially insistent -- I have a feeling losing one text buddy won't hamper Evan's social life all that much. The Jackets, on the other hand, need the focus. If they survive tomorrow, that very popular, nearly unstoppable guard from Ohio State will be waiting for them, cell phone in hand.

Bracket winners and losers

March, 14, 2010
I have no real complaints about the inclusions and exclusions from this year's field. My miss was Florida -- I had Illinois instead. Both teams had their flaws. I was a little suprised that the Gators bagged a No. 10 seed with a 1-8 record against the InsideRPI Top 25, but I'll have to dig a little to see if that was procedural.

[+] EnlargeBilly Donovan
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesBilly Donovan's Florida Gators were fortunate to be selected for the NCAA tournament.
Body Of Work
I'm delighted the committee applied more than top 50 wins in evaluating Utah State. To me, "body of work" can mean different things when evaluating different teams. Not everyone starts with a level playing field, and it appears the Aggies -- unlike many mid-majors before them -- convinced the committee that four months of sustained excellence was worth something.

Toughest Region
The Midwest appears to be the toughest region at first glance. It has the nation's top team (Kansas) plus a pair of what could have been No. 2 seeds (Ohio State and Georgetown). It also has my preseason national champion -- Michigan State -- but I think we know how that worked out.

Duke Has Clear Path
The South looks like a beefed up NIT field. Duke has no excuses this time for not reaching at least the second weekend. If I had to make a wager, Baylor would be my choice for the Final Four out of this region, joining Kansas, Syracuse and West Virginia in Indianapolis. I like Kansas over WVU in the national championship game.

OVERSEEDED: New Mexico, Clemson, Wake Forest, Florida

UNDERSEEDED: Temple, Tennessee, Northern Iowa, San Diego State, UTEP

More On Seeding
For the first time, the Committee applied the provision that a conference with more than six teams in the field could have its members meet before a regional final. We could see a pair of Big East rematches in the Sweet 16: West Virginia vs. Marquette (East) and Villanova vs. Notre Dame (South).

Let's all sit back and really enjoy this tournament, just in case it's the last one with a 64-team bracket.
The Minnesota Gophers' tournament hopes died on March 2. Or so we thought.

That's when Minnesota, after winning at Illinois, attempted to build on its late-season push with a win at Michigan. That, um, didn't happen. Instead, the Gophers were walloped by a bad Michigan team, 83-55, and if you ever needed a reason to exclude the Gophers from the tournament -- and, as of March 2, you didn't -- the Michigan loss was plenty.

But look now: Minnesota is still breathing in the Big Ten tournament after wins over Penn State and yesterday's upset of No. 3 seed Michigan State, giving Minnesota its 19th and 20th victories of the year. Unsurprisingly, those wins have boosted Minnesota's tournament stock considerably. What's more surprising is that Minnesota's tournament stock isn't just vaguely better -- all of a sudden, the Gophers have a legitimate chance to sneak in the NCAA tournament.

Joe Lunardi now has Minnesota listed in his "next three out," right below Dayton and Mississippi State. That has to be the first Minnesota bracketology mention since, when, October? Of that group, only the Bulldogs are still active. Minnesota still has work to do -- leapfrogging Arizona State, Memphis, Rhode Island and Seton Hall will be no easy feat -- but it remains genuinely remarkable the Gophers are even on the bubble radar. A win over Purdue today would surely boost Minnesota's chances again, putting them right on the cusp. Then there's the Big Ten final against the winner of Ohio State and Illinois, which, duh, could mean an automatic bid for the Gophers.

Will Minnesota get in? At this point, it's still unlikely. But you have to give the Gophers credit for not doing what some of their disappointing Big Ten counterparts -- cough, Michigan -- have done, which is fade down the stretch. The Gophers are still fighting. Good for them.
In many ways, today is the real start of March Madness, though you could just as easily say that about last week, when the conference tournaments really began. But since we have, count 'em, eight conference championships on the line tonight, and since this week marks the beginning of all the power conference tournaments, today rather feels like the start of what will be four consecutive awesome weeks of win-or-go-home hoops. Let's go to the tape:

  • Ken Pomeroy breaks down this week's most voluminous, and usually most exciting, conference tournament (who's up for another six-overtime thriller, because I am): the Big East. Can Syracuse rebound from its loss to the Cardinals? It might not matter, as Louisville is safely in the opposite side of the bracket. Meanwhile, West Virginia will look to upset the established order, and Villanova will try to overcome its defensive issues -- which actually didn't show up in its overtime loss to the Mountaineers Saturday -- and re-boost its once lofty projected tournament seed in the process.
  • ESPN Insider's LaRue Cook breaks down the historic chances of mid-major at-large bids, finding that conference tournament wins can be both a blessing and a curse for mid-majors on the bubble: "A handful of mid-major teams will receive consideration for at-large bids after strong work during the regular season, particularly given the under-performance of some of their major-conference brethren down the stretch. For those mids -- Saint Mary's, Old Dominion, Wichita State and Siena among them -- a conference crown isn't a must. Instead, our data shows that a single conference tournament win may do the trick. One win doesn't seem substantial, but last season four mid-majors received at-large bids and all of them had one conference tournament win on their resume. In fact, 33 mid-majors have earned an at-large bid in the past five NCAA tournaments, and just seven have not had at least one win in their conference tournament."
  • The New York Times' Thayer Evans has a quick rundown of what's at stake in all of the major conference tournaments. In short, a lot.
  • As expected, The Mid Majority is all over the mid-major conference tourney beat.
  • CAA Hoops tries to summarize the insanity in Saturday's quarterfinals round of the CAA tournament and finds words insufficient to do the tournament justice.
  • Searching For Billy Edelin has a handy little Microsoft Paint-drawn visual bubble aid. Who doesn't love Microsoft Paint? Back before the Internet was awesome, Microsoft Paint, Candystand mini-golf and Solitaire were the best ways to waste time in your high school's computer classes.
  • With the regular season finished, John Gasaway drops his final Tuesday Truths of the season. Maryland is still under-seeded according to their efficiency margin despite last week's big win over Duke, Notre Dame has added defense to its conference-leading offensive efficiency, Wisconsin is first -- yes, first -- in the Big Ten, and the order of the top four teams in the Mountain West might surprise you.
  • Casual Hoya hands out a few post-Oscar awards for its win over Lance Stephenson and Cincinnati on Sunday, which was, according to Hoya, "just the kind of medicine" Georgetown needed before the start of postseason play.
  • The Michigan State fans at The Only Colors relish a season-ending win over Michigan. Taking one look at the Spartans' offensive rebounding against the Wolverines is all you need to know; if Michigan State keeps that sort of obsessive second-chancing (not at all a verb, but let's go with it) going in the Big Ten tournament, it could separate itself from Wisconsin, Ohio State and Purdue just in time for the NCAAs.
  • IU coach Tom Crean fired assistant Roshown McLeod, who will not coach in the Big Ten tournament. IU is 1-0 this season without McLeod on the bench; the Hoosiers won their first game post-firing, a nearly blown home win over Northwestern Saturday. So maybe that bodes well for the Big Ten tournament? OK, probably not.
  • Kentucky fans might not like this column from CBS' Gregg Doyel, which parrots John Calipari's own consistent criticisms of the Cats: "Calipari looks tired. He sounds drained. And he looks and sounds this way on a Sunday afternoon when his team has just beaten Florida 74-66 to win the SEC regular-season title by two full games. He looks and sounds this way because he knows the heavy lifting is still to come, and because he has a team that is talented enough to lift as much weight as any team in college basketball -- but a team that is young enough, and dumb enough, to drop the weight on its own foot."
  • Basketball fans of the semi-nerdy persuasion were no doubt aware of MIT's Sloan sports conference, a collection of some of the best basketball-related statistical and business minds in the world. The conference is of primary interest to NBA fans, sure, but there is plenty of interesting stuff that spans into college hoops, too. Kevin Pelton has a recap, and our blog brothers at True Hoop were all over the gathering from start to finish.
As always, follow me on Twitter to send me links and tips.

Here's my latest attempt at video blogging, a hopefully shorter and less blabby version. Thanks to everyone who sent questions on Twitter, especially @MizzouHoops, @torymaynard, @WillBrinson and @RyanCorazza. And thanks to you for watching, for not making fun of my large cranium, and for leaving the feedback you are totally going to leave in the comments section right now. To have questions answered in future Twitter mailbags, hit me up here.
Just this morning I wrote about the reception Evan Turner received on the big show last night -- SportsCenter trotted out just about every college basketball analyst ESPN has, all of them agreeing on one salient and totally-true fact: Evan Turner deserves the player of the year award. For those of us who have been screaming Turner's name from the mountaintop for a few months now, this sudden consensus is gratifying.

Despite a very legitimate case from Kentucky guard John Wall, Turner has turned (sorry) a corner in the perception of the college basketball writerati, if not entirely among college basketball fans themselves. Today makes it more official, as Turner took a commanding lead in's straw poll of 49 national player of the year voters (who serve as voters on various real-life player of the year voting panels). Turner notched 41 first place votes. Second place went to Wall with eight first-place and 31 second-place votes, while third and fourth went to Syracuse's Wesley Johnson and Villanova's Scottie Reynolds, respectively.

There you have it. This is's final straw poll. The four actual player of the year awards (the Naismith, the Wooden, the Robertson, and the AP, which totally needs to name their award after, like, Shane Battier, or something) won't be handed out until later in March and early April. Technically, there is still time for Wall to mount one last challenge to Turner. It's unlikely, though; the Villain will almost certainly be your consensus 2009-10 player of the year. What's even better? He will completely deserve it.
The Morning After is our semi-daily recap of the night's best action. Try not to make it awkward.

No. 7 Ohio State 73, Illinois 57: There were zero upsets to speak of last night, and Illinois' bid for a tournament-securing win at Ohio State was no different. Instead, the night was a feel-good Buckeye festival. Thad Matta's team secured a share of the Big Ten title. Evan Turner got a national spotlight, not that he needed it (more on this below). And Mark Titus, the by-now-famous purveyor of Club Trillion, made the most of his senior night, notching one final trillion in front of hundreds of Club Trillion t-shirt-clad OSU fans -- not to mention raising a whole bunch of cash for sick children. Really, things couldn't have gone much better.

The most notable performance of the night -- other than Titus', obviously -- probably came from Ohio State sharpshooter Jon Diebler, whose seven 3-pointers for 21 points (this scoreline math is refreshingly simple) helped bury the Illini in the second half. After the game, though, the only national topic was Turner. More specifically, the topic was "Is Evan Turner the player of the year?" Every analyst ESPN had to offer on Sportscenter proclaimed it to be true. The only dissenters? America. In a SportsNation poll, 37 percent of the country voted for John Wall as the player of the year; Turner notched 33 percent of the vote. Which means one thing, America: You're on notice. I know Wall might be the most familiar name, but it's March now. There's no excuse for this. Inform thyself. Wall is a great player, but Turner has had a better season, and he deserves the award. I thought we Turner advocates had settled this issue already -- seriously, you have no idea how good it felt to see the unanimous pundit praise for Turner Tuesday night -- but apparently not. We have more work to do. Turner bandwagon team ... assemble!

No. 19 Vanderbilt 64, Florida 60: Again, no upsets here: Florida, like Illinois, could have sealed an at-large NCAA tournament spot with a win over the sturdy Commodores on Tuesday night. It didn't happen. Still, the Gators acquitted themselves nicely in the loss; Florida held a typically efficient Vanderbilt offense to a mere 64 points on 60 possessions. Billy Donovan's team was undone by its poor shooting, though, hitting 21-of-50 2-point shots and just 2-of-13 from 3 for a paltry 31.8 effective field goal percentage. Even in a solid defensive effort, that's not going to get the job done.

The Associated Press wrap of the game seems to think that Florida significantly hurt its tournament chances with the loss, but that seems slightly overstated. Sure, Florida didn't help itself, but losing by four to Vanderbilt at home isn't the worst result in the world, is it? Florida might have more work to do -- but no more work than before Tuesday, right?

Everywhere else: Cincinnati likewise needed a big win to keep itself in the at-large conversation. They almost got it, but insert the old koan about horseshoes and hand grenades here ... UTEP clinched the outright Conference USA title with a hard-fought win at Marshall ... Missouri's Zaire Taylor almost perfectly recreated Tyus Edney's famous game-winner in a thrilling overtime win at Iowa State ... North Carolina became the second team in the history of college basketball to get to 2,000 wins; one wonders if the current players felt strange holding that 2,000-win plaque, given this season's ugliness ... Syracuse had no problems with St. John's on senior night ... Baylor won at Texas Tech, handing Pat Knight's team its sixth straight loss ... Minnesota suffered a major letdown at Michigan, one which officially puts the final nail in the the already almost-entirely-assembled Gophers' coffin ... Trevor Booker did manly things in Clemson's win over Georgia Tech ... and Marquette shredded Louisville's zone in a 21-point win in Milwaukee.

Video: Ohio State clinches share of Big Ten

March, 3, 2010

No. 7 Ohio State clinches at least a share of the Big Ten title, putting away Illinois, 73-57.
Saddle Up is our daily preview of the hoops your TV wants you to watch. Here's Tuesday night's rundown.

Illinois at No. 7 Ohio State, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN: Of any team facing bubble implications to play tonight, Illinois' situation is perhaps the most fluid. A win at Ohio State puts the Illini in the absolutely-in pile; a loss leaves them right about where they are now, if not worse off. Losing would make the Illini would 18-12 overall, the sort of record the committee will not be perfectly thrilled with, and Illinois would still have to fend off loss No. 13 when Wisconsin comes to Champaign, Ill. on Sunday.

The good news is Illinois has proven capable of beating top Big Ten teams on the road before. The bad news is that Illinois' style plays right into the Buckeyes' hands: Few teams prevent free throws quite like the Buckeyes, and few teams refuse to pocket their jump shots and attack the rim quite like the Illini. If Illinois can reverse this trend for a night -- if they can get Demetri McCamey to attack the basket and get forwards Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis some good looks against Ohio State's somewhat undersized, shallow front line -- Bruce Weber's charges have a chance. If not, well, Ohio State is better and more efficient than Illinois in just about every aspect of the game. Things don't bode well.

No. 19 Vanderbilt at Florida, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN: Speaking of bubble teams in need of help ... Florida, come on down. Joe Lunardi has Florida as a No. 10 seed in the tournament right now, but thanks to a close loss at Georgia (which is actually not that horrible loss, given how well Georgia has played at home this season), Florida could use a big win tonight before a daunting trip to Rupp Arena on Sunday.

Make no mistake: That's what a win over Vanderbilt would be. Big. The Commodores have been a steady force in the SEC all season. Their only league losses have been to Kentucky and a blowout at Georgia -- there's that pesky Georgia team again -- and while not a great defensive team, Kevin Stallings' bunch is very difficult to stop on the offensive end. Vanderbilt's attack is nicely balanced between forwards A.J. Ogilvy and Jeffrey Taylor, and guard Jermaine Beal, all who shoot a plus-50 effective field goal percentage. Florida's lack of a true post presence could hurt them against the 6-foot-11 Ogilvy. Then again, Florida's strength isn't its size; it's speed. Make Ogilvy work away from the hoop on defense -- the sudden offensive brilliance of forward Chandler Parsons applies here -- and the Gators can make Vanderbilt exceedingly uncomfortable. And then we can stop talking about the Florida's bubble issues forever. I'm cool with that.

Everywhere else: Cincinnati doesn't share Illinois' and Florida's bubble anxiety -- it's entirely out of the picture, now -- but a win over Villanova couldn't hurt matters, I guess ... Gonzaga would put the cap on another WCC title season by topping Cal-State Bakersfield tonight ... With a win at Marshall, UTEP would seal the outright Conference-USA crown ... Baylor will put its third-place standing in the Big 12 on the line at Texas Tech ... Likewise for Missouri at Iowa State ... Minnesota plays at Michigan in yet another battle of the upper midwest's most disappointing teams ... and deadlocked Big East teams Louisville and Marquette will play a game both teams want, but don't necessarily need, in regards to NCAA tournament hopes. Marquette is involved, so it's a safe bet the game will come down to the wire. That should be fun.
Purdue's ugly loss to Michigan State Sunday afternoon in West Lafayette, Ind. didn't just seal the nation's consensus of a Robbie Hummel-less Boilermaker squad -- i.e. that they're not a No. 1 seed without him -- it also made the top of the Big Ten standings a confusing, jumbled-up mess. Especially when you look at them on Monday morning. Can someone grab me another cup of coffee?

Here's the skinny: Ohio State's win over Michigan Saturday gave the Buckeyes a half-game lead in the Big Ten at 13-4. Ohio State has one game to play, a matchup with Illinois at the Value City Arena on Tuesday night. Michigan State's win over Purdue put the Spartans and the Boilermakers at 12-4 -- Purdue's chance to win the conference outright largely came down to yesterday's game -- with two games to play each. Michigan State hosts Penn State and Michigan in East Lansing, two very winnable games. Purdue will host Indiana and go to Penn State.

Assuming all three teams win their last games, that gives a three-way tie at the top of the Big Ten with records 13-4. That would give us a three-way tie for the Big Ten regular season title. Exciting, right?

Ah, but what of the conference tournament? It comes down to the Big Ten's multi-team tiebreak rule, which is almost as confusing as the standings themselves. To wit:


1. Results of head-to-head competition during the regular season.

A. When comparing records against a single team or a group of teams, the higher winning percentage shall prevail, even if the number of games played against the team or group are unequal (i.e., 2-0 is better than 3-1); in the case of tied percentages vs. the team or group of 1.000 or .000 the following shall apply: 2-0 is better than 1-0; 0-1 is better than 0-2.
B. After the top team among the tied teams is determined, the second team is ranked by its record among the original tied teams, not the head-to-head record vs. the remaining team(s).

2. If the remaining teams are still tied, then each tied team's record shall be compared to the team occupying the highest position in the final regular-season standings, continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage.

A. When arriving at another pair of tied teams while comparing records, use each team's record against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to their own tie-breaking procedures), rather than the performance against the individual tied teams.
B. When comparing records against a single team or a group of teams, the higher winning percentage shall prevail, even if the number of games played against the team or group are unequal (i.e., 2-0 is better than 3-1); in the case of tied percentages vs. the team or group of 1.000 or .000 the following shall apply: 2-0 is better than 1-0; 0-1 is better than 0-2.

3. Won-loss percentage of all Division I opponents.

4. Coin toss conducted by the Commissioner or designee.

Anyone get that? Yeah, me neither. Except for the coin toss part. That makes sense.

Let's give it a shot, though: Michigan State and Purdue split their season series at 1-1. Ohio State and Purdue likewise split at 1-1. And Michigan State and Ohio State only played once, a seven-point win for the Buckeyes in East Lansing. If I'm doing this right, that gives Ohio State a 2-1 record against the tied teams, while Purdue is 1-1 and Michigan State is 1-2.

So, assuming I'm interpreting this correctly -- I have a call in to the Big Ten's office, and I'll add their confirmation when they call me back -- that would put Ohio State on the No. 1 line in the Big Ten tournament, with Purdue on the No. 2 and Michigan State at the No. 3. All three teams would get a first round bye and play the winners of the No. 8 vs. No. 9, No. 7 vs. No. 10, and No. 6 vs. No. 11 games, respectively. Since the Big Ten still has a while to shake out, it's hard to say who has the advantage.

The bottom line is this: Purdue's chance to win the Big Ten outright is, barring collapses by both OSU and Sparty, likely over in 2010. The best the Boilers -- alongside Ohio State and Michigan State -- can do is kiss their sister. It's yet another effect of losing Robbie Hummel, one that pales in comparison to the apparently lost Final Four chances, but one that will sting Purdue fans all the same.

The Morning After: Hard-Boiled

February, 18, 2010
The Morning After is our semi-daily look at last night's best hoops action. Try not to make it awkward. Oh, and sorry about that headline. I couldn't help myself.

No. 4 Purdue 60, No. 12 Ohio State 57: Any time you face a player as good as Evan Turner, the conventional strategy is simple: Make someone else beat you. It might not have been conscious, but Purdue's execution in last night's impressive road win at OSU was the exact opposite. It let Turner get his points (and his assists, and his rebounds, and pretty much anything else he wanted, because what are you going to do, triple-team him?) and the rest of the Buckeyes couldn't step up in time. By the time OSU started hitting the shots it usually makes to complement Turner's brilliance, it was too late: Purdue is simply too smart, too hard-nosed and too complete on defense to spot it 15 first-half points. OSU and Turner made a valiant comeback, but it was too late.

Purdue's defense didn't stop Turner -- he went for 29 points, seven rebounds, and five assists -- but what it did do was isolate Turner from the rest of his teammates. Purdue swarmed OSU with that patented man-to-man defense, and Ohio State's offense turned simple. There was no motion, no movement, none of the things that the Boilermakers kept wowing with on their own offensive end. Instead, Turner would bring the ball up the floor, receive a screen or an iso call, go to the hoop and oftentimes score. But even a player as good as Turner can't rebound all of his misses. Even Turner can't find himself on back cuts. Even Turner can't make every shot. Ohio State had six assists all game; Turner had five of them.

In the end, it's games like these that set Purdue apart from the Big Ten pack. The Boilermakers have elite talent -- JaJuan Johnson is perpetually slept on; sooner or later we'll learn -- but they also have the depth and style, that hard-nosed, lockdown defense thing that you can feel when you watch them, to outlast mercurial teams like Ohio State. Matt Painter's boys are not perfect, and they're not Kansas, but they're the closest thing the Big Ten has to a Final Four favorite. That much is no longer in dispute.

Louisville 91, Notre Dame 89, 2OT: Which team needed this one more? Louisville, coming off an upset of Syracuse and trying to fight its way back into safe bubble territory? Or Notre Dame, whose bubble hopes are almost entirely waned, but who could maybe take a win at Louisville to the committee as a résumé-builder? Hard to say. What I do know that is that a Louisville win -- in which Samardo Samuels scored a career-high 36 points, including 16-of-19 from the free throw line, marking the only real difference between these teams in Four Factors land -- moves Louisville into legitimate tourney consideration, and just might move Notre Dame off the bubble for good. Such is life in the middle of the Big East.

Missouri 82, No. 17 Texas 77: Is Texas going to drop out of the Top 25? This is the Longhorns' sixth loss in nine games, and while there's nothing wrong with losing at Missouri -- Missouri is a tough out, to be sure -- a team as talented as Texas losing so many games in the stretch run of its season, just as the country's elite are hitting their stride and doing their best work, ought to be hugely discouraging to voters. Take a gander at those Big 12 standings: Texas is 6-5 in the conference, behind Kansas, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Baylor and, yes, Missouri, which moved to 7-4 with Wednesday night's win. Texas is one of the most-talented teams in the country. How does that happen? Anyone with a really good answer -- something besides "Rick Barnes plays too many players" -- wins a cookie. Not kidding. I will mail you a cookie of your choosing. Just please help me understand this, because I am so very confused.

Everywhere else: Duke was over the ledge in the first half at Miami, trailing by 12 at halftime and apparently doing another of its incomprehensible road loss routines, but credit the Devils for the turnaround: Duke won 81-74 in an impressive comeback victory. Sure, it's just Miami, but a road ACC win is a road ACC win. Especially for Duke. ... It was a night of survival for highly ranked teams, and Kansas State's near-loss at home to Nebraska was no exception. ... West Virginia withstood Providence's second-half rally. ... St. Louis got a huge win for itself and for the prospect of six A-10 teams in the NCAA tournament with its win over Rhode Island. ... Tennessee got a challenge from Georgia, but pulled away for the nine-point win. ... Florida State rolled at Virginia, a doomer for the Cavaliers' faint NCAA hopes. ... South Carolina did itself no favors by losing at Arkansas; as fun as it would be to have Devan Downey in the NCAA tournament, it's not looking good.

Halftime observations: Ohio State-Purdue

February, 17, 2010
Purdue now has played two of the most impressive first halves of any team in the country in consecutive weeks.

Halftime observations from Purdue 36, Ohio State 23:

  • Last week the Boilermakers went into East Lansing and took a 14-point lead on Michigan State at intermission, on their way to a 12-point victory. Now the Boilers have put a 13-point choke hold on Ohio State on the road, shooting 60 percent from the field (57 percent from 3-point range) and limiting the Buckeyes to one assist.
  • Purdue has a power trio of Robbie Hummel, E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, and they trade off starring roles. Tonight it’s Johnson’s world – he has 15 points, four rebounds and three assists at halftime. Ohio State postman Dallas Lauderdale has had no idea how to combat the lanky junior Johnson.
  • If it weren’t for Evan Turner, this would be a Little Bighorn-level wipeout. Turner, my leading candidate for national Player of the Year, has 13 of Ohio State’s 23 points, four of its 12 rebounds and the lone assist. He’s made 6 of 13 shots against a rotating array of defenders, while the rest of the Buckeyes are 3 of 11.
  • William Buford, Ohio State’s second-leading scorer, did not scratch while playing the entire 20 minutes. Buford was 0 for 2 with one rebound and one blocked shot.
  • This game could really be out of hand if Purdue were a little tighter with its ball handling and passing. The Boilermakers have committed nine turnovers, while averaging just 10.8 per game in Big Ten play. Then again, Ohio State has turned it over 10 times, including four errors by Turner.
  • A late-arriving, lackadaisical crowd hasn’t helped Ohio State create much homecourt atmosphere or generated any significant animosity toward the Boilers. The vibe at Purdue home games is roughly 400 times more boisterous.

Live from Columbus: Purdue-Ohio State

February, 17, 2010
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In place here at Value City Arena. Some pregame notes from tonight's matchup between No. 4 Purdue and No. 12 Ohio State:

  • The game is a sellout. Kind of. Ohio State got rid of every ticket in the 19,049-seat Value City Arena, but it took some deep discounting to make it happen. Starting last Friday, the school made a buy-one-get-one-free offer at the bargain price of $10, and the game officially sold out Wednesday afternoon. Moral of the story: Don’t build an arena this big for a football-centric fan base. They can put more than 100,000 in Ohio Stadium for home football games, but have to give away tickets to fill this place for a huge Big Ten basketball game. (Now you know why the marquee on one merchandise store near campus is still advertising Rose Bowl gear.)
  • Last time these two teams met, the stars were spectacular. Purdue’s Robbie Hummel hit eight first-half 3-pointers and finished with 32 points. But Ohio State’s Evan Turner owned the second half and finished with 35 points while leading the Buckeyes to a 70-66 comeback victory back on Jan. 12. If these guys come close to reprising that night, this will be one entertaining game -- but expect both defenses to be focused on preventing that.
  • Which is the hotter team? Purdue, but not by much. The Boilermakers have won seven straight, Ohio State has won six straight. The Buckeyes are coming off, what most observers here think, was their best game of the season -- spanking Illinois in Champaign by 19 points. Purdue probably had its most impressive win of the year last week, beating Michigan State in East Lansing by 12.