Big Ten Wonk
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Ohio State update
The following passage has been yanked out of the original December 28 post for ease of linking....

Florida beat Ohio State 86-60 Saturday in Gainesville. I've said some nice things this season about the Buckeyes--nice things that were predicated, in part, on a key assumption: that Thad Matta would be able to get a level of defense out of talented players he recruited that is equal or superior to the defense he got out of less-talented players that he didn't recruit. Saturday's game legitimately calls this assumption into question. The game was tied at 40 early in the second half, at which point the Gators feasted on a trapping OSU defense that wasn't really trapping anyone--it was just creating open shots. And Florida hit them.

Should Matta have been trapping? Tough call. If I were tied with Florida on the road early in the second half I might be content to pack the paint and keep the ball in front of me. But say this for Matta: he danced with the girl that brung him. A one-handed Greg Oden's raison d'ĂȘtre is precisely to enable this kind of aggressiveness on the perimeter. (And in any case the concept was more defensible than the execution, which was above all else listless--something I'm not sure I've seen before in the Matta era.) The Gators, however, responded brilliantly, passing out of the traps and stopping for open 17-foot looks before entering Oden territory down low.

The good news for Ohio State is that, realistically, there's only one team in the Big Ten this season that has the talent on the floor to profit from watching this tape closely. The bad news for Ohio State is that that team is Wisconsin. (Box score.)

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