#6 Ohio State’s gigantic road win over North Carolina on Wednesday led ESPN’s Jeff Borzello to say that they “might be the best team in the Big Ten,” and he may be right. After all, the undefeated Buckeyes’ resume includes seven double-digit wins, two of which were 25-point blowouts of top-ten teams (Villanova & North Carolina).
While it is a bit early to make claims about who is or isn’t the best in a given conference, one thing is certain: The next month with tell us a lot about Ohio State’s ceiling.
Beginning December 15, the Buckeyes will play seven games that include trips to Minnesota, #3 Maryland, and Indiana along with contests against a hot West Virginia and #5 Kentucky. If they make it through this stretch unscathed, we won’t have to limit our conversation on Ohio State to the Big Ten—they will have proven themselves to be one of the nation’s elite teams.
In their wins over Villanova and North Carolina, the most obvious difference between Ohio State and these squads was their size. They are able to physically overwhelm their opponents with a vicious inside out attack on offense that features Kaleb Wesson (6’9” 270 lbs), an aggressive, rangy big man and a host of shooters who can drain the three, especially Duane Washington, who is hitting 51.4% from behind the arc. On defense, the Buckeyes’ size, physicality, and athleticism make it difficult for opponents to find clear lanes to the basket. So, they are forced to try to win with jump shots. Thus far, it hasn’t worked.
Ohio State will pose serious problems to any team that they face this season. Although they occasionally have moments of weakness, such as a nearly five minute scoring drought against a weak defense at the end of the first half against North Carolina, their sheer dominance makes up for their deficiencies. If they handle the upcoming slate of games, there will be ample reason to believe that the Buckeyes could still be playing in April.