Enlisting the Help of The Buckeye Blog to Break Down Ohio State Basketball


In anticipation of Cincinnati’s game with Ohio State at 9:45 tonight I sent a few questions to Jim from The Buckeye Blog to see if he could help unravel the mystery that is the Ohio State Buckeyes. On Tuesday I posted a preview of this game from a statistical standpoint but Jim can provide an analysis of OSU basketball where the numbers fall short. That’s what watching most of the Buckeyes’ games this season (unlike me) will give you.

So without further adieu, here we go…

Bearcats Nation: From an outsider’s perspective it looks like the Buckeyes have had a phenomenal season so far. What is your take on Ohio State’s year?

Jim: The Buckeyes have been frustrating at times. They have so much talent but there have been so many games that relied on one player as opposed to the entire team. When they are on, they look great. When they struggle (ie. turnovers), it can be difficult to watch.

BN: Jared Sullinger. Everyone on the planet knows he’s one of the best all-around players in college basketball but are there any weaknesses to his game? You can lie if you want to make me feel better. It’s cool.

J: I think his biggest thing is that he has to maintain his focus. He takes a lot of abuse which used to shake him but he’s getting much better. Gonzaga was a good test and he maintained his cool. Lately, he’s forgotten about the refs and played his game and it shows.

BN: What the heck has gotten into Deshawn Thomas lately and how has he complimented Sullinger this season?

J: Thomas is another one of those on and off again players. Lately though, he’s been more on than off. When both Sulli and Thomas are grabbing rebounds and scoring points, they are a tough combination. I also think that the focus on Sullinger opens opportunities for Thomas. May be a problem for Cinci if they can get Gates into foul trouble early.

BN: The Buckeyes seem to revolved around their starting five of Sullinger, Thomas, Craft, Buford, and Smith Jr. Obviously it has worked out well for Thad Matta but do you have any criticisms over the lack of a contribution from the bench?

J: I think the bench is somewhat understated. Yes, early in the season it looked like the Buckeyes only had five players. Lately however, I think Matta’s confidence in his bench has grown as Even Ravenel and J.D. Weatherspoon and Lenzelle Smith Jr. have proven themselves. When Sulli went to the bench early against Gonzaga, Revenel stepped in and did well.

Yeah, the starters are getting a lot of playing time but they seem to have the talent to make it work.

BN: Cincinnati has fallen in love with the 4-guard lineup this season. Will Matta switch things up to match the speed of this set or stick with the size advantage of his 3-G, 2-PF lineup?

J: Admittedly I’m a much better football arm chair than basketball but I think the size advantage will be a factor. I think we will look to Craft to help control the speed of the game. He managed the pace well against Ganzaga and Loyola, who was pressuring hard.

BN: The Bearcats shoot a boatload of threes. Has Ohio State faced a team that likes to jack it up from beyond the arc like UC does and how do you think that will affect the Buckeyes?

J: Three pointers may be an issue. I can’t tell you how much I miss Jon Threeblier from last season. If you guys can get hot from outside, it may make it hard for us to keep up.

BN: Yancy Gates vs. Jared Sullinger. What are the chances that a small earthquake emanates from beneath the feet of these two guys when they face-off on Thursday night?

J: No doubt. I think it will be important for both players to keep their cool (I understand Gates has had some troubles with that). I am looking for the Buckeyes to drive inside with Sullinger early in hopes of getting Gates into foul trouble. Might be what you guys do as well for that much. Either way, it should be a great physical battle under the net.

BN: UC fans have been waiting for this matchup for years and many will probably make the trip to Boston. How will the Buckeyes represent?

J: Good question. Buckeyes travel well no matter where they are so I think we will have a good crowd. The thing with Ohio State is that there are Buckeyes no matter where you go. The distance for both of us might balance things a bit.

BN: Who’s winning this thing?

J: This is going to be a great game and I was pretty impressed that you got passed Florida State. The Buckeyes have had a bad habit of going out in the Sweet 16 the past couple of years also. About the only thing I have left in my bracket is my championship team. Can you guess who that is?

Well surprise, surprise it sounds like Jim picked Ohio State for this game. I was definitely encouraged to hear that Ohio State has been bounced in the Sweet 16 in recent years. But this is going to be a tough game for Cincinnati and, like Jim said, the Bearcats can’t afford to have Gates in foul trouble. Going down the rosters, Gates and Sullinger are pretty even. But behind them the advantage gets skewed to the Buckeyes as I think Thomas has a clear edge over Mbodj. If Gates is forced to sit on the bench, Ohio State will become more and more dominant inside. An important key to this game is getting Sullinger into foul trouble early and preventing Gates from collecting them. Once again, thanks to Jim for taking the time to answer my questions. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and visit The Buckeye Blog for all things Ohio State related.