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Starting a new streak against the Buckeyes

And so begins the journey back to a number one seed. As we see from Gary Parish, we're not an elite team. Never mind that we have had four players discussed as potential NBA players. They won't be playing there next year, so we can't truly be a national title contender. He is relieved too. I mean, why should anyone but Kansas, Kentucky, or Texas even bother playing the rest of the season? His three NBA player theory is ridiculous too. Who was the third NBA player on IU's 1987 National title team? I guess the stellar NBA careers of Keith Smart and Steve Alford were long enough to be a third. Also, if we don't have three future NBA players (and Gary's criteria is they have to play at least one game in the NBA, thus keeping that IU team alive) then why are JJ, Robbie, and E'Twaun listed on these NBA draft prospect lists?

Like I have said all along, we can only control what is in front of us. The rest will sort itself out. If we keep winning in Big Ten play we will position ourselves where we will need to beat, at most, two of the anointed three to win the national title. Kansas showed on Sunday there is no guarantee they will get there. The secret to beating them is obviously a Walk-On Whiteout, so we can arrange that.

What is in front of us now is Ohio State. They are clearly a threat to win the national title because of their NBA troika of Evan Turner, David Lighty, and Mark Titus. All we can do is beat them and move on.

2008-09 record: 22-11, 10-8 Big Ten (lost to Siena 74-72 in NCAA Tournament first round)

2009-10 record: 11-5, 1-3 Big Ten

Blog representation: Buckeye Battle Cry, Eleven Warriors, Men of Scarlet & Gray, Buckeye Blog, Club Trillion (The Personal blog of walk-on player Mark Titus)

Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 81-80 (This is the closest series we have in Big Ten play as we lead in all 10 series)

Last Purdue win: 3/15/09 in Big Ten Tournament (Indianapolis) 65-61

Last Ohio State win: 2/3/09 at Ohio State 80-72 (OT)

Of the above blogs I highly recommend the Club Trillion blog as far as insight. What better way to know a team than by a member of it? Titus is a former manager and four year walk-on with eight career points that writes about his expereince riding the bench for the Buckeyes. He is specifically looking forward to a Mackey Arena visit this week, so let's give him a warm welcome.

As you can see form the numbers above, the all-time Purdue-Ohio State series is nearly dead even. This was helped when Ohio State won 14 of 15 meetings between 1998 and 2007. It should also be noted that we have not won in Columbus in 12 years and never at the Schottenstein Center.

Recently the series has been much closer. We played three times last year, with each team winning on its home floor and Purdue winning in the Big Ten Tournament championship. Our win in West Lafayette was a 25-point domination while the last two games in Columbus have gone to overtime. While we can do nothing about the Columbus losing streak at this time, we can maintain our streak over them at home.

I have already seen Ohio State once in person this year. I was asked to cover their game at Butler for Rush the Court last month. I saw a good team, but it was an incomplete grade as it was their first game without Evan Turner. The Buckeyes did not have a bad loss in non-conference play, losing only to North Carolina in a neutral floor and at Butler. Since starting Big Ten play they have struggled. Their only win came over Indiana at home, while they have lost at Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin by a total of 45 points.

The biggest news though was the return of Turner. The junior guard missed only six games after fracturing his back against Eastern Michigan. He was limited in his first game back against Indiana, scoring only 8 points in 20 minutes. His game this weekend at Minnesota was much better. He 19 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks in 38 minutes, thus erasing any doubts that he is fully back. He considered to be the most NBA ready player in the entire conference. The numbers back it up too.  He averages 17.5 points, 10.3 points, and 5.9 assists per game. You need to know where he is at all times as he prefers to score on the drive. He does not shoot many threes, so he isn't a huge threat on the perimeter. He had a triple double against Lipscomb (16 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists) as well as against North Carolina (23 points, 11 rebounds, 10 turnovers) and Alcorn State (14 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists).

We did manage to keep Turner off the glass in the game at Mackey Arena last year. He only had four rebounds in that game and 14 points. What scares me even more is that he does not need to be a major scorer in every game because Ohio State has such offensive balance. Jon Diebler (14.1 ppg), David Lighty (13.6 ppg) and William Buford (13.5 ppg, 3.3 apg) are all players that can light up the scoreboard. Three point specialist Jeremie Simmons (41.8% from long range) also scares me because he can easily get lost on ball reversals and hit big threes. Lighty is an interesting challenge since we did not see him last year due to injury.

Diebler is an interesting player for us to watch because he hit five 3-pointers in last year's championship game in Indy. Our 3-point defense has been very troubling of late. Ohio State shoots almost 40% as a team from long range too. Where they get dangerous is when Turner drives and kicks back out to Diebler, Simmons, and Buford. Diebler is especially deadly, as he has already hit 54 triples this season.

Ohio State has a bunch of weapons. Honestly, they are more diverse in their scoring than we are and that scares me. We just faced one of the lower scoring teams in the conference and now we must face one of the high scoring teams. Our defense did exactly look good against Wisconsin, either. Ohio State averages 76.7 points per game and both Dallas Lauderdale and P.J. Hill are capable scorers in addition to those mentioned above.

From what I saw against Butler, Lauderdale can only dunk when wide open, but that can still be an effective weapon. Where we can have a small advantage is that Ohio State does not have a regular rotation player over 6'9". They are bigger than us on the perimeter, but they have no one that can matchup with JJ inside. That makes them a bit like West Virginia in some respects. Kyle Madsen is the last player in their eight man rotation and he only plays about 12 minutes.

Turnovers could be an issue with Ohio State. As could free throws since they shoot less than 70% as a team. If there is one person we need to foul it is Lauderdale, who shoots a pitiful 47% from the line. Only the great Chris Dudley was worse. Lauderdale is a good shot blocker at 2.6 per game and he shoots almost 70% from the field. Of course, if I were 6'8" and rarely wandered farther than five feet from the basket I would be a shot blocker that hits 70% as well. I can also hit free throws.

Part of the reason Ohio State is considered a higher scoring team is because they fattened their stats against lesser teams. They have cracked 100 three times this year and had some pretty bad teams on their non-conference slate. Since entering conference play they have not been above 64 points except against Indiana.

The bottom line is that this team has been terrible away from home. They are 0-4 in true road contests this season. They average 18 fewer points per game on the road than their season average. That's just astounding. You can partially blame the loss of Turner for this (he missed three of those four games), but that can't be the total story. If their road woes continue they could find themselves in trouble on Selection Sunday. They still have road games at Michigan State and West Virginia as well.

It really depends on what Buckeye team shows up in this one. If the Ohio State that played North Carolina close in New York shows up we could struggle. If the team that lost by 22 at Wisconsin shows up, we win easily.

Keys to the Game for Purdue:

  • Hit your free throws (There is no excuse to shoot that poorly ever again)
  • Keep Evan Turner from another triple-double performance
  • Nullify Lauderdale's effectiveness
  • Limit second chance points
  • Watch Diebler and Simmons on the perimeter
  • Don't force interior passes like against Wisconsin

Purdue 72, Ohio State 65