Ohio State-Michigan: Buckeyes Still Searching for Consistency

Rob WunschCorrespondent IFebruary 5, 2008

Ohio State (15-7, 6-3) hosts Michigan (5-16, 1-8) on Tuesday night (7pm EST, ESPN).

Ohio State returns from Iowa after getting embarrassed 53-48 on Saturday night. Michigan comes to Columbus after losing at home to Minnesota 77-65 last Thursday night.

Michigan is on a five-game losing streak and has lost ten of their last 11 games. The Wolverines are dead last or next to last in almost every statistical category in the conference. At this point, the Wolverines are just finishing out the season. Their only chance of getting to the postseason hinges on an unlikely Big Ten Tournament Championship run. 

Michigan has lost their last five games to Ohio State. Michigan’s last victory over the Buckeyes was 75-64 on February 29th, 2004. 

The Buckeyes' loss at Iowa on Saturday night was a disappointing one. Iowa out-played Ohio the entire game and came away with a 53-48 victory in Iowa City. It was reported after the game that Jamar Butler, the quiet senior point guard, went off on the young team for not being ready to play. 

Ohio State does not have a lot of room for error if they want to be invited to the tournament. They play number 13 Indiana at home on Sunday (1pm EST, CBS). The Buckeyes only have one victory against a ranked team and that was back in November against Syracuse.

Is Ohio State on the bubble? 

With seven losses and no quality wins to speak of, the Buckeyes do find themselves on the bubble. Key games at home against Indiana, Wisconsin, Purdue, and Michigan State will determine the Buckeyes fate in March.

At this point in the season, the Buckeyes are still searching for consistency.

Kosta Koufos, a freshman center, has been soft and ineffective down low. At the beginning of the season, Koufos was touted as a NBA lottery pick. In many ways Koufos is playing like a freshman. Maybe expectations were a bit unrealistic.

Othello Hunter, a senior power forward, has not been consistent the entire year. At Tennessee he had 17 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks. In two games against Penn State and Iowa he had 17 points, 15 rebounds, and two blocks combined. The Buckeye’s postseason dreams may depend on Hunter showing up every game.    

For the guard-forward position, coach Thad Matta has to be scratching his head. 

David Lighty, Evan Turner, and John Diebler are all searching for consistency. Diebler's never really gotten on track and is shooting 28 percent from the field. Lighty’s play is good one night and terrible the next. He had 16 points against Illinois and he only managed five points with six turnovers in the very next game against Minnesota. 

Evan Turner, a freshman guard-forward, started to provide some consistency. He had three solid games against Tennessee, Illinois, and Minnesota with 21, 14, and 17 points, respectively. Last week, however, he struggled against Penn State and Iowa, only scoring five and four points, respectively. 

Jamar Butler is holding this team together with his solid play at the point. He is averaging 15 points and six assists a game. Butler is currently doing everything to keep this team together.

Butler is soft-spoken and shows little emotion on the court. His outburst after the Iowa game may be just what this young Ohio State team needs.