The Ohio State men's basketball team had a rather tough week. They started it by winning a hard fought, physical game at home by Michigan State. Then they took their game on the road yesterday to face a streaking Purdue team that they had previously defeated quite handily in Value City Arena. The result wasn't pretty, as the Buckeyes committed almost 20 turnovers en route to their second and worst defeat of the season, 76-63.
Yet, despite the loss, there is no reason for the Buckeyes to push the panic button yet, as many basketball experts believe they are still a lock for one of the four number one seeds in next month's NCAA tournament.
Many people will say that the fate of the Buckeyes rests squarely on the shoulder of its freshman phenom, forward Jared Sullinger. With Sullinger averaging almost 20 points and 10 rebounds a game, it would be hard to argue that he will not have an impact during March Madness.
If the Buckeyes want to win their second national championship in basketball since 1960, however, another freshman will need to step up his game: point guard Aaron Craft. Craft has been a bright spot for the Buckeyes this season, as no one really knew what to expect from the Findlay alum once play began in November of last year.
But Craft has been turnover prone the past few games, something that is a no-no for the point guard of a national championship team. And when the game was on the line versus Wisconsin, and yesterday against Purdue, it seemed at times that he had faded into the background.
Even though he is only a freshman, Aaron Craft must realize that only he can be the catalyst that leads the Buckeyes to Houston this season. Not only is he responsible for setting up the half court offense, but his ability to drive to the basket can draw double teams that open things up on the outside for guys like Diebler and Buford. Once he accepts this role in the offense, the Buckeyes will truly become a dangerous team.
The Ohio State Buckeyes entered the 2010-2011 season with high expectations, as many believed that not only was a Big Ten Title possible, but maybe a national title as well. And even though OSU has had a couple of hiccups the past couple of weeks, losing two of their last three, they still have to be considered one of the favorites to cut down the nets at the end of March. If they are successful in that quest, it will no doubt be in part due to the efforts of their freshman point guard, Aaron Craft.