Ohio State Basketball: Potential Trap Games for Buckeyes in 2013-14
The Ohio State basketball program is off to an excellent start with a 7-0 record and a No. 3 and No. 5 ranking in the two polls.
The Buckeyes feature arguably the top defense in the nation and will be tested numerous times in Big Ten play. After all, the league features programs such as Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Iowa.
While the marquee contests against fellow ranked foes are what jumps out when analyzing the schedule, there are certain games on the slate that could pose potential problems if the Buckeyes aren’t focused. Read on to see some possible trap games for Thad Matta’s squad this season.
Jan. 16 at Minnesota
Ohio State travels to East Lansing on Jan. 7 in one of a handful of games that could decide the Big Ten champion. After that showdown with Michigan State, the Buckeyes return home to face an underrated Iowa team that should contend for a conference crown in its own right.
Often times in sports, whenever a team gets through a difficult stretch—especially if it does so successfully—a letdown can follow. It’s almost human nature to relax a bit when obstacles are in the rearview mirror.
The game following the Iowa clash is a trip to the Barn to face Minnesota. Even when the Golden Gophers are struggling, it's a hard place to play, but there is plenty of talent in the cupboard for Richard Pitino in 2013-14.
Andre and Austin Hollins is one of the best one-two punches in the country, while Elliot Eliason is a formidable interior presence. If Ohio State doesn’t come ready to play, it could take an L in Minnesota.
Feb. 8 vs. Purdue
A classic definition of a trap game in sports is when it is sandwiched between two difficult stretches and features the team that is supposedly walking into a trap as the favorite.
Ohio State’s contest with Purdue on Feb. 8 matches both of those criteria.
The Buckeyes face a daunting road trip in the two contests prior to that when they travel to Wisconsin and Iowa. After Purdue is a home tilt with Michigan, which would be a marquee game in Columbus if both teams were 0-20 and agreed to decide the outcome on a ping-pong table.
It’s easy to see the game against the Boilermakers as the breather in that stretch. If the Buckeyes take that mindset, Terone Johnson and A.J. Hammons will come into the Schottenstein Center and knock off Matta’s squad.
Feb. 27 at Penn State
If Ohio State continues to play well and is in the Big Ten championship race heading into the stretch run, its final two games against Indiana and Michigan State will be monumental. The Hoosiers and especially Spartans will likely be in the thick of the battle as well.
However, those two contests could lose some luster if the Buckeyes get caught looking ahead on Feb. 27.
Trips to Penn State don’t exactly inspire fear among Big Ten circles, but there is some talent on the Nittany Lions’ roster. Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill make up arguably the best scoring backcourt in the entire conference, which means Shannon Scott and Aaron Craft will have their work cut out for them.
If the suffocating defense that the Buckeyes’ backcourt brings on a nightly basis shows up here it won’t be close, but Ohio State still cannot afford to look ahead to Indiana and Michigan State too early.
Follow and interact with college basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.