All was good in the state of Ohio heading into the matchup on Dec. 27, 2008 against Big East foe West Virginia.
The football team was preparing to show the country they belonged, eggnog was still “cool” to drink, Santa had been especially good, and the basketball team was turning heads nationally with a surprise 9-0 start.
This was the opportunity for this team to show what Notre Dame, Butler, and Miami (FL) already knew: This is a good basketball team.
Unfortunately, they were humbled on their home court. This was not a way to head into competitive Big Ten league play.
The win against Notre Dame will not be the poke the team might need to burst that bubble and place them in the tournament.
But that victory will not come into the voters' minds if the Buckeyes can’t finish the Big Ten season strong. Arguably the second-deepest conference in the nation, the Big Ten has laid four more losses to the column.
This continued pace will most likely leave the Buckeyes, at best, another chance to head to Madison Square Garden and defend their NIT title.
Great location? Absolutely.
Just not where the Buckeyes want to be or see themselves when it comes around to the Madness.
To avoid this fate, the Buckeyes will need to answer some important questions to finish off their conference play.
** Note all stats are as of Jan. 25, 2009 ***
1. Where OH where is Greg Oden?
Giving up a -0.9 rebounding margin per game is a recipe for failure. At ninth in the conference, a complete turnaround, or Greg Oden, is not the cards. This is not to say it cannot improve, and for continued success, rebounding is a key facet to the game.
2. What happened to Señor?
With no seniors on the roster, it is like playing without a full deck. It is very difficult to get through the grind of the tough Big Ten season. From freshman to senior is a boy to man transition.
No one can question the talent on the roster. But the Buckeyes will need to show continued leadership if they expect to finish conference play strong.
3. When did the price of FTs increase?
Ohio State’s FT% ranks eighth in the Big Ten at 67.8 percent. “Free” points need to be secured at a better rate. The team will need to improve if they want to compete for the Big Ten title.
4. Evan Turner the burner?
It's lame; I get it. But he has been playing some great basketball for the team. At 15.4 ppg, he ranks fourth in the Big Ten.
5. When will Mark Titus obtain a trillion?
A shameless plug. No question. But one of the most enjoyable reads on the internet. Be sure to check it out.
If he does obtain this lofty standard, it will most likely be in a win.
If the Buckeyes can answer these questions, without cheating, it will lead to a chance in the big dance.