How does Ohio State do it?


Somehow, some way, the Ohio State Buckeyes are always good.

I don’t know how Thad Matta does it.

CBSSports.com predicted that the Buckeyes would finish second in the Big Ten this season. They nearly got that prediction correct. Ohio State will finish third behind Wisconsin and Maryland, even if Ohio State beats Wisconsin on Sunday. Wisconsin won the Big Ten title Thursday night with a victory at Minnesota.

Oh, the lifeless Golden Gophers.

I’m amazed at how Matta always has his team in contention. The Buckeyes are playing in meaningful games in March every year.

The Buckeyes do two things extremely well: shoot and score. Ohio State is 20th in the country in points per game (76.9), and is ninth in made field goals (849) and fifth in field goal percentage (.493).

The Buckeyes’ defense isn’t as strong as it was last year, partly due to Aaron Craft not being there anymore, but the offense has been better than in recent years.

Freshman sensation D’Angelo Russell has been one of the best players in the country all season long. He averages 19.3 points per game, 5.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists. He is shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 43.2 percent from beyond the arc. There is no question about it, this kid will be a top NBA draft pick in June if he decides to declare for the draft.

Ohio State is more than just Russell, though.

Senior guards Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson have been superb, too. Scott does a little of everything, and it shows in his averages: 7.9 points per game, 3.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.7 steals. Thompson is averaging a career-high 10.2 points per game to go along with 3.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 steals.

When I looked at Ohio State’s resume, I didn’t see too many signature victories. While the Buckeyes have beaten Maryland, they have suffered losses to North Carolina, Louisville, Iowa (twice), Purdue, Michigan, and Michigan State.

It’s hard to tell what seed this team will get when Selection Sunday rolls around, so I can’t even make a prediction about this team. For all I know, Ohio State could be playing in the Big Ten Championship game.

I can see two things happening to Ohio State in the tournament.

It will lose its first game or it will make it to the Elite Eight. The Selection Committee will be kind to the Buckeyes and put them in a favorable regional bracket, or they’ll be put in the toughest regional bracket and will face stiffer competition than they had hoped for in the opening round.

I don’t think there is any gray area with this team.

The Buckeyes were a No. 6 seed last season when the Dayton Flyers knocked them off in the opening round.

Ohio State is hoping it isn’t a No. 6 seed again this season.

One thing is for certain, though.

Never count out the Buckeyes.

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