For what felt like the 100th time this season, Ohio State fell behind big, 17 in this case, before fighting back and ultimately coming up short.
The Buckeyes 76-67 loss to Michigan State that ended their run in the Big Ten tournament was a retread of a tired script that played out over and over again this season. This time it came in a one-and-done format.
Here is what I took away from what felt like a game I had seen before.
- Physical Play: It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that a game between the Spartans and Buckeyes was extremely physical. The teams combined for 38 total fouls and there seemed be plenty on both sides that went uncalled. In the post-game locker room Marc Loving was icing his shoulder and Amir Williams had cuts on the bridge of his noise.
- Sparty has Russell’s number: For the second time in as many games against the Spartans, D’Angelo Russell struggled. He managed a team-high 19 points, but took 16 shots to get there. He was ineffective before the half, shooting just 3 of 8 and seemed to be rushing his shot.
- Mad Thad:
- Not Lacking Effort: While the Buckeyes struggled against the Spartans, it wasn’t with the same lack of effort that they displayed down the stretch against Wisconsin. Ohio State certainly didn’t execute, but I felt that the intensity was consistently there down the stretch, evidenced by a five-second violation the Buckeyes forced around the five minute mark of the second half.
- NCAA Tourney Look Ahead: As far as big-picture seeding goes, the Buckeyes are likely destined for an 8- or a 9-seed, probably the worst possible outcome from their trip to Chicago. A win against Michigan State and a victory over Maryland likely would have pushed them to a 7-seed, while a loss to Minnesota may have made them a 10. Either likely would have been preferable than playing in the 8-9 game and facing a No. 1 seed in the second game, assuming they could get there. But as we’ve learned with this Buckeye team, assuming anything is a fool’s errand.
“The physicality of the game from the beginning to the end, it was outside, in the paint, everywhere,” loving said. “The refs let a lot of stuff go and it was a very physical game.”
“They do a great job of playing team defense and I wasn’t making shots at the beginning of the game,” Russell said. “I feel like whenever we played them if I was making shots it probably would have been a different game. It’s just a different game. It’s contagious. If anyone is making shots everybody starts making them.”