FACTS & STATS: Site: Value City Arena (19,200) -- Columbus, Ohio. Television: CBS. Home Record: Indiana 12-5, Ohio State 18-0. Away Record: Indiana 0-9, Ohio State 8-2. Neutral Record: Indiana 0-2, Ohio State 0-0. Conference Record: Indiana 3-12, Ohio State 13-2. Series Record: Indiana leads, 99-73.
GAME NOTES: The second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes continue their quest for the Big Ten Conference regular season title this afternoon, as the Indiana Hoosiers invade Value City Arena.
Indiana suffered a six-game losing streak earlier this season, and the club can equal the length of that slide if it falls to Ohio State today. The Hoosiers have dropped to 12-16 overall and a lowly 3-9 versus conference competition. They are coming off a 72-61 setback to Purdue on Wednesday, and there isn't much reason for optimism today when considering the team's 0-9 record in true road contests.
By contrast, Ohio State is a perfect 18-0 at home, and a victory today would set a new school record for home wins in a season. The Buckeyes sit alone atop the Big Ten standings with a 13-2 record, one game better than Purdue and two better than Wisconsin with three regular season contests remaining for each. OSU is 26-2 overall, but two of the last four games have resulted in defeat for a team that opened 24-0.
These two teams met on New Year's Eve, and Ohio State cruised to an 85-67 victory, its fifth straight in the series. Still, the Hoosiers own a 99-73 advantage over the Buckeyes all-time.
While Indiana is outscoring opponents overall this season (71.2 ppg to 67.5 ppg), the Hoosiers are actually being outscored by more than 5.0 ppg in league tilts. Christian Watford supplies 16.2 ppg as the leading scorer for Indiana, and Verdell Jones III provides 12.5 ppg. As for Jordan Hulls, he rounds out a trio of double-digit scorers with 11.5 ppg. In the 11-point loss to Purdue last time out, Watford posted 18 points and nine rebounds. Hulls registered 15 points in that affair, and Jones netted 13. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they connected on only 38 percent of their field goal attempts and had four more turnovers than assists. Defensively, they allowed the Boilermakers to make good on 50 percent of their total shots.
Ohio State has been idle since Tuesday night when it knocked off Illinois in an 89-70 final. In that contest, David Lighty paced the Buckeyes with 21 points, while William Buford added 17 and Jon Diebler hit all three of his three-point attempts en route to 13 points. Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft, a pair of standout freshmen, netted 12 points apiece, and while Sullinger ripped down 11 rebounds, Craft handed out six assists with zero turnovers. Ohio State connected on 53 percent of its field goal attempts in that affair and earned a decisive 12-3 edge in points from the foul line while committing only three giveaways. Sullinger is one of the nation's truly elite freshmen and a strong candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year honors. The rookie is scoring 17.8 ppg to go along with 9.9 rpg, and he is a 56.1 percent shooter from the floor. Buford (14.1 ppg), Lighty (12.5 ppg) and Diebler (11.2 ppg) provide tremendous balance for a squad that is generating 77.1 ppg while holding opponents to 59.5 ppg.
Clearly, Ohio State is superior to Indiana and should have no trouble winning today's game. The Buckeyes are the nation's most complete team and should be viewed as the favorite to win the national title in the view of this writer.