David Lighty will have to stop the likes of Jeff Brooks if he is to finish off his Big Ten career with a W

Tomorrow afternoon Ohio State will have a chance to claim its second straight Big Ten Tournament Championship.  If the Buckeyes are to achieve this goal, they will need to get past a surging Penn State team.  Just as Michigan State used its tournament victory over Purdue to solidify its berth in the NCAA Tournament, Penn State in turn used Michigan State to solidify their own berth, if their prior win over Wisconsin wasn’t quite enough.

This Nittany Lion squad is certainly admirable for its effort these past few days, winning out over higher ranked opponents in what has truly been a last ditch effort to get into the Big Dance.  The casual observer has to feel good for the Lions, who fought through a hard Big Ten season but had the look of a team that was going to come up just short yet again.  In particular, anyone following Talor Battle’s career with Penn State has to feel good for the senior guard, who became the school’s all-time leading scorer in the Lions victory over Wisconsin.

Dallas will not be running point, as this picture suggests, but rather shutting down the lane if Talor Battle tries to take it to the hoop

There probably aren’t enough negative adjectives available to describe the PSU-Wisconsin “game,” but Ed DeChellis’ team bounced back in good form against Sparty, not only securing the win and a chance to play in the B1G Tourney final, but controlling much of the second half and finishing it off with a 13-point margin.  Battle led the way with 25 points while playing the whole 40 minutes, and he got a lot of help from co-guard Tim Frazier, who finished with an outstanding stat line of 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Ohio State’s regular season games against the Lions included both a close call and a royal blowout that saw Jon Diebler have a record-breaking night.  The latter game occurred less than two weeks ago, so there won’t be a lot that has changed for the two teams between then and now.  The only real difference is determination, and Penn State has a lot more to gain from this match-up than Ohio State.  In lieu of significant offensive and defensive adjustments, Thad will just need to adequately get the team mentally prepared to take Penn State’s best shot.

As we have been doing for each of these tournament games, here are a few points to consider in preparation for tomorrow’s contest:

  • Good things come to Jordan Sibert who waits! It was great to see the freshman guard get some PT earlier today against Michigan when several Buckeyes got in foul trouble, and he made the most of his time.  Although it does seem unlikely, Sibert may have performed well enough to warrant some first half game time against Penn State as well, regardless of any potential foul trouble for his teammates.  It will come down to whether or not Thad feels that Sibert’s contributions today served only as a stop-gap, or if they brought a new element to the team that would be valuable to incorporate moving forward in the tournament season.
  • Jaaaared.  You know better than to miss your free throws!  Against Northwestern, Sullinger’s accuracy at the line proved to be our saving grace.  Unfortunately, our freshman star’s performance dropped off against Michigan, hitting only 4 of 10 from the charity stripe.  With the expectation that Penn State will be playing tough and not hesitating to hammer Sully down low, hopefully Jared finds his touch once again.
  • Aaron Craft’s mouthguard.  As this will be the last game within the Big Ten this season, bets are being placed like mad in Vegas on whether or not Craft’s teeth protection will go the distance.  All season long our freshman point guard has been chewing on the guard, popping it in and out, and reportedly beating it up in the locker room after some games.  But the mouthguard has really hung in there, and with only one game to go the steadfast plastic has proved to be a real pre-NCAA Tournament Cinderella story.

Tomorrow’s game against the Lions will be at 3:30pm EST and will be aired on CBS.  Be sure to stop by for the liveblog as we watch the finale of this great 2010-11 Big Ten season before heading into the NCAA’s!

2 Comments

  1. KenNo Gravatar
    March 13th, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I actually feel pretty good about this match-up. Talor Battle was pretty impressive yesterday, so we’ll see if we can contain him a bit. I would really like to see aggressive, yet in control, play from Buford and Lighty this afternoon. Granted, PSU will be going all out today, but it’s not like we don’t have anything to play for either.

    [Reply]

    JayNo Gravatar
    March 13th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I agree with your comments Ken. It would be great to see a focused, aggressive Buckeye team come out and take it to Penn State. Lighty will be ready, but hopefully Buford is also staying hungry to win.

    [Reply]

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