Ohio State Basketball Flying Under the Radar (For Now)
The Ohio State Buckeyes football team is consistently ranked in the Top 10 and they make several appearances on the national stage year after year.
Recently, they've lost a few high-profile games on the "big stage" and have become a pariah outside of Columbus as a result.
The same does not hold true for the Basketball Buckeyes, but it soon might for a different reason.
Buckeye Head Coach Thad Matta is quietly and efficiently building a powerhouse program, and not many have noticed yet, but that's all about to change.
After opening their season unambitiously with wins over unimpressive Delaware State, Bowling Green, and Samford, the Buckeyes traveled to Miami, Fla., this past Tuesday to participate in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and take on the (5-1) No. 21 Miami Hurricanes, whose only loss was to No. 2 UConn.
After a sluggish first half, which found the Buckeyes trailing 36-22, the momentum and perhaps the entire season turned in favor of the Buckeyes, led by a flurry of lights-out shooting from Jon Diebler (6-of-12 from behind the three-point line) and Evan Turner with 20 and 19 points, respectively.
David Lighty added 11 points to help complete the comeback and lead the Buckeyes to the 73-68 win.
But there was no time to pat themselves on the back. They had to get prepared for the next challenge and it was coming soon.
Four days after the big win in Miami, Ohio State, now 4-0, traveled to Indianapolis to face their biggest test since losing the 2006-2007 title to Florida.
Lucas Oil Stadium was transformed into a college basketball venue to host the No. 7 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-1) and the unranked Ohio State Buckeyes.
Once again, Evan Turner led the Buckeyes fearlessly into a lion's den and came out unscathed. He nearly single-handedly spoiled the return of Notre Dame star forward Luke Harangody, who scored 25 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in his own right, but it wasn't enough.
Turner scored a career-best 28 points and had 10 rebounds and five assists. BJ Mullens added 11 points and Dallas Lauderdale had six blocks as the Buckeyes won their second straight game over a ranked opponent, this time holding on 67-62.
We may look back and realize just what a defining moment, so to speak, this stretch of the 2008-2009 season was for the Bucks.
Winning these two big games may be considered the stepping stone that catapulted the Buckeyes into the spotlight. I fully expect them to be ranked in the Top 15 or 20 when this week's new poll comes out.
Dare I dream of yet another National Championship game for my Buckeyes?
I digress, for now!
The scariest situation for upcoming OSU opponents is that top recruits William Buford and BJ Mullens have yet to contribute substantially as they adjust to D-I college basketball but they will, soon enough.
Buford was named 2008 Mr. Basketball in the state of Ohio and Mullens was the runner-up. Both were McDonald's All-Americans as well and Mullens is already being considered by many NBA Draft experts as a potential top five pick for next years draft.
One thing is for sure at this moment. It absolutely has made this team believe in themselves, and rightfully so.
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