- Senior No-Show: It was a very forgettable performance from the senior class in their final game at home. Shannon Scott played OK offensively, scoring 10 points, but he was just 4-12 from the field. He did have three assists and three steals with no turnovers and knocked down a pair of threes.
- Frank Kaminsky, matchup nightmare: Playing the odds-on favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year is never easy, but it’s harder when you have to guard the 7-foot senior with a 6-4 freshman. That’s what Matta elected to do, employing Jae’Sean Tate on Kaminsky. It was an interesting decision and one that seemed to pay off early as Kaminsky had just eight points at halftime. In the second half Kaminsky did whatever he wanted going over top of Tate.
- Unfortunate firsts: The loss was the worst of the season by far for Ohio State, its only double-digit defeat on the year. The Buckeyes previous eight losses had come by an average of just 5.6 points.
- Some hope: As bad as Sunday was for Ohio State, I still think that with the right matchups the Buckeyes can have some success in both the Big Ten and NCAA tournament. Wisconsin is really, really good. The Badgers entered with the best offensive efficiency mark in the country and lived up to that. Not many teams in the country could do what Wisconsin did to Ohio State at home.
- Big Ten Tourney: Speaking of the Big Ten Tournament, the Buckeyes don’t have a bad draw. They will open with the winner of the 11-14 game. The 11-seed could go to either Minnesota or Northwestern, depending on the outcome of the Maryland-Nebraska game that has 10 minutes left as I write this. Either way, the Buckeyes should feel good about that one.
Other than Scott (who was far from spectacular), Sam Thompson went 0-7 with two points, Amir Williams was 2-3 in just 12 minutes of action and Trey McDonald was 0-2. The no-show by Thompson was particularly surprising to me as he had been coming on lately. I expected him to elevate his play on Senior Day more than anyone else and that just wasn’t the case.
“Obviously I want to get those guys playing their best basketball down the stretch and playing with a chip on their shoulder,” Thad Matta said of those four seniors. “Those guys can’t go 6-for-26 combined. We need them playing.”
That decision told me a few things. One, Matta trusts Tate. That’s a tough assignment for any freshmen, let alone one who is giving up eight inches. Two, Matta is as frustrated with his centers as all of Buckeye Nation. The fact that Amir Williams and Trey McDonald were never matched up on Kaminsky was very telling of what the coach thinks those players can (and can’t) do.
The defeat was also Matta’s first home loss in March in his time at Ohio State, dropping him to 13-1 in such contests. It was also the coach’s first loss in a season finale in 11 years in Columbus.
A win there and the Buckeyes get Michigan State, a team that they fell to by just three points on a last-second shot in East Lansing. While Ohio State could certainly lose that game, they shouldn’t be afraid of the Spartans. A win over MSU would likely mean a matchup with Maryland, a team Ohio State blew out earlier this year. As Thad Matta said Sunday, anything can happen in March.