The Buckeyes are in for their first stern test of the conference season. Illinois started the season on a twelve game winning streak and looked to be much improved over last year. Let’s take a closer look.
|School:||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (rolls off the tongue..)|
|Location:||Urbana and Champaign, IL|
|Student Population:||40,616 total, 31,932 undergrad|
|Division:||NCAA Division 1|
|Head Coach:||John Groce|
I’m pretty certain everyone was well entertained this week. Nothing like Illinois to cure what ails you!
4 Quarters of Offense.We scored with 4 minutes left in the first quarter. I feel like this isn’t quite “early” enough, nor “often” enough for your taste.
Defense…more, please. It was a pretty solid effort from the defense, and probably would have been better if the offense hadn’t coughed the ball up twice. But you really can’t complain with 170 total yards for the Illini.
XBrax360. 223 yards passing, 73 yards running, and 3 total touchdowns. Pretty solid video gamey numbers.
Electricity in the ‘Shoe. Maybe it was electric in the first quarter, but I doubt it lasted much beyond halftime. Cold weather plus a blowout does not electricity make. Not having been there, someone will have to let me know if they felt differently.
No more Illini Dancing on the Block O. I very much doubt there was any Illini dancing going on after this one.
Throw It Over Top. There were certainly some nice throws over the top. The wheel-route to Rod Smith was a thing of beauty.
Silver Bullets. They made steps in the right direction, and they would have likely held Illinois to only 6 points all game if it wasn’t for those meddling backups and their fumbles.
Hyde and Smith. Hyde got over 100 (137) and was the primary rusher – so you were correct there. Rod Smith’s 32 yards on 5 carries, however, not so much. In fact, Bri’onte Dunn’s 73 yards on 13 carries and a score was a much better outing toting the rock. Rod Smith’s 55 receiving yards (51 on the wheel-route) makes his day overall better.
Ohio State welcomes the Illinois Fighting Illini into Columbus today for the first of three games leading into the end of the season.
4 Quarters of Offense.Last week was better, but still not good enough. I want to score early and often.
Defense…more, please. The defense played a pretty good game last week. Let’s pick up where we left off, shall we?
XBrax360. Illinois is awful. This should be a week for Braxton to put up some more big numbers.
Electricity in the ‘Shoe. No excuses. Kickoff is at 3:30 rather than noon so everyone should be fully awake and ready to go. This team is 9-0, and they just got a huge road win in Happy Valley last week. Let’s get it rocking in the ‘Shoe on Saturday.
No more Illini Dancing on the Block O. It absolutely made me suck to my stomach for them to do it an I wouldn’t have blamed te Buckeyes for going to town more than they did. Take it to them quickly an leave little doubt.
Throw It Over Top. The best way to get Devin Smith back in the saddle is go deep and make him go after it. Challenge the talent and speed of the Illini from the get go.
Silver Bullets. I tweeted last week close to the end of the game that it was the first time all season I felt like I could use the hashtag #SilverBullets. It’s a fact for many and I want to see more consistency. Buckeyes lead the B1G in YPG given up and they should continue.
Hyde and Smith. Braxton’s passing game will get better and will allow the two beasts in the back field to go to town. First game Brax won’t be the primary runner this week and Hyde and Smith will get 100 a piece.
10:15 PM – Make sure to stop back tomorrow for more live coverage from Indianapolis from WVaBuckeye and Gary Russell! A preview of tomorrow’s games will be up shortly to get you ready for all four excellent matchups.
10:00 PM – Gary Russell here from Indy finishing out today’s action. The second half started off with a flurry but Purdue really flexed its muscles in pulling away and beating Nebraska in the Husker’s first trip to the tourney by a score of 79-61. Today’s action reminded me of what the Big Ten is all about. While Minnesota’s overtime thriller was the best game of the day, the other games still showed us that the Big Ten has tremendous heart, determination, and class. Here’s to a great first day and an awesome second day.
9:00 PM – Gary Russell from Indy and Purdue is leading Nebraska 39-31 at halftime. Upset minded Nebraska kept it close early but they didn’t seem to have an answer for Purdue on the boards. The Boilermakers cashed in on their second chance points going up by 15 at one point. Bo Spencer hits a three and a lay up at the 2:03 mark shrinking the lead to 8. The teams trade baskets to close out the half putting us where we are at halftime.
7:40 PM – Northwestern’s dreams came to an end here in OT. A hot shooting Gopher squad made their free throws and some timely threes to post a 75-68 win. Shurna and Cobb combined for 45 of Northwestern’s points, while Andre Hollins lead Minnesota and all scorers with 25. Minnesota moves on to face TTUN tomorrow in game three of day 2.
Welcome to March.
Are you ready? Ready for tournament time?
The coaches are. Some of the coaches don’t usually care about the Big Ten Tournament – particularly Tom Izzo. The tournament rarely changes anything heading into the NCAA tournament, and the Regular Season Championship is considered more precious. But Tom Izzo seemingly changed his mind this season after being forced to share the regular season title with the Buckeyes and Wolverines,
We’re going to go win our championship back.
He’s ready for March. Are you?
You’d better be. This Big Ten Tournament promises to be one of the best yet. The field is deep with teams that want to win. Consider Northwestern, who has never been to the NCAA’s, and Minnesota, who would like to prove what they can do as a young team missing a key player. How about Purdue, with Robbie Hummel’s last go around. And that’s not even including Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan who would all love to be able to hold the tournament championship over their co-regular season title holders.
Just to name a few.
JoeD, WVaBuckeye, Dave, and I put our heads together and shared some of our thoughts on the Thursday matchups to get you ready for the first day of action.
Coming off their fifth loss of the season, the Buckeyes looked to bounce back at home against the struggling Fighting Illini. Unfortunately for Illinois, they simply did not have the horses to keep up with the intense Ohio State attack, and fell 83-67 in Columbus. Meyers Leonard of Illinois led all scorers with 21 points, while Deshaun Thomas led the Buckeyes with 19. William Buford and Aaron Craft rounded out the OSU double digit scorers with 17 and 11 respectively – a solid game from the Buckeye’s leaders.
The Buckeye Nuthouse was proudly sporting shirts that read “Retire #32″ tonight. The shirts were in honor of Dennis Hopson and his excellent career for the Scarlet and Gray in the mid-80′s. To see the students supporting OSU history so enthusiastically was amazing, and I’m proud of the passion that they have shown for Hopson.
The Buckeyes came out of the gate very determined to earn the win tonight. The team played with amazing energy and intensity from the outset. Their passes were sharp and crisp, and placed where only the intended recipient could recieve it. Even better, the Buckeyes were finding open shooters and making great shot selection. The best was William Buford’s shot fake from above the charity stripe that turned into a pass to an open Aaron Craft for three, putting Illinois down by double digits and forcing Bruce Weber into an early timeout.
Thad Matta mixed up the bench rotations in a big way. Instead of having Shannon Scott come in solely for Aaron Craft as we have seen all season long, Scott came in and played the two for Lenzelle Smith. That allowed the Buckeyes to have a pair of good ball control point guards in the game. We also saw Sam Thompson come into the game for Buford early and get quality playing time, including an amazing one handed tomahawk ally-oop from the aforementioned Scott.
Happy Mardi Gras! The Bucks are back in Columbus for their rematch with the Fighting Illini! The game tips at 7:00 PM EST on ESPN.
Keep your eyes open on this game. Our own WVaBuckeye put together a set of shirts for the Nuthouse to help promote the #Hop2TheRafters cause
While you wait, go checkout our friends in the Buckeye Bloggers Network! the Buckeye Blog, OSU Silver Bullet, Buckeye House Call, Our Honor Defend, and Men of the Scarlet and Gray. Fox Sports Ohio also joins us as usual. The liveblog will kickoff at 6:30 PM EST.