Ohio State vs. Indiana: Hoosiers Need to Stifle Aaron Craft to Win

Corey WalkerContributor IIMarch 5, 2013

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - JANUARY 8: Aaron Craft #4 of the Ohio State Buckeyes dribbles up the floor against Ronnie Johnson #3 of the Purdue Boilermakers during the game at Mackey Arena on January 8, 2013 in West Lafayette, Indiana. Ohio State won 74-64. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

In arguably the most important Big Ten game of the season, Aaron Craft remains the main wild card that might decide the outcome of the game.

Assembly Hall is sure to be rocking with excitement and passion, but the Hoosiers will have to stop a passionate performance by Craft to escape Senior Night with a victory.

Despite being overlooked on the national level, the crafty, gritty senior guard will undoubtedly have a major impact on the game. His presence, or lack thereof, will be the determining factor today, because his particular skill set is what the Buckeyes need to upset the Hoosiers in what’s sure to be a hotly contested matchup.

His main task will be to disrupt the usually efficient Victor Oladipo, and force the Hoosiers to look for another source for perimeter offense. Oladipo shoots an astounding 63.4 percent from the field, so the Buckeyes will need Craft to show up big time. Craft is considered to be one of the nation’s best perimeter defenders, so this wouldn't be a shocker.

Oladipo’s jump shot is far from perfect, so Craft will have to keep him from penetrating the lane to score points.

Although Cody Zeller is a great player, the Buckeyes will need Craft to focus mainly on Oladipo, because he can inflict more damage than anyone else on the Hoosiers’ roster can. Oladipo can create offensive opportunities and passing lanes that give Zeller more opportunities to score near the rim.

Furthermore, if Craft can have a game similar to the one he had against Michigan State, 7 of 12 shooting, 21 points, the Buckeyes will most certainly upset Indiana.

While nobody thinks of Craft as an offensive juggernaut, an offensive breakout similar to the Michigan State game just might be enough to put the Buckeyes over the top against the Hoosiers.

If he can disrupt the Hoosiers’ offense through stifling Oladipo and have an uncharacteristically efficient offensive game, the Buckeyes can win.

Also, Craft has the intangible “It Factor,” that could turn the tide of the game. He may not be the most talented player on the floor, but everywhere he goes he gets hate and attention from the fans. If he can shut up the raucous Assembly Hall, the Buckeyes just might pull this one off.