Buckeyes Vying for B1G tourney bye

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Last updated: 02/27/2014 4:19 AM
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Men's Basketball
Buckeyes Vying for First-Round Bye in B1G Tournament

By John Porentas

CONFERENCE
OVERALL
 
W-L
Pct
W-L
Pct
Michigan
12-3
.800
20-7
.741
Michigan State
11-4
.733
22-6
.786
Wisconsin
10-5
.667
23-5
.821
Ohio State
9-6
.600
22-6
.786
Iowa
8-6
.571
19-8
.704
Nebraska
8-7
.533
16-11
.593
Minnesota
7-9
.438
18-11
.621
Indiana
5-9
.357
15-12
.556
Illinois
5-10
.333
16-12
.571
Purdue
5-10
.333
15-13
.536
Northwestern
5-10
.333
12-16
.429
Penn State
4-10
.286
13-14
.481

Don't look now, but those Buckeyes everybody was writing off not too very long ago are in the mix for a first-round bye in the B1G basketball tournament.

The Buckeyes hit rock bottom in a 71-70 loss at home to Penn State on January 29. That loss was their fifth in six game. To put it mildly, they were reeling. Since then however, they are winners of five of their last six, the lone loss at home to league-leading Michigan.

The top-four finishers in the regular season get first-round byes in the conference tournament, and right now the Buckeyes have one of those byes. The trick now is to hold on to it, something they are now becoming more confident they can do.

"I like where we are as a team right now," said starting forward Sam Thompson.

"I think we're peaking at the right time offensively. Defensively I think we're really turning it up to playing some of the best defensive basketball that played. Individually you have guys that are getting into rhythms and really contributing to this team. I like where we are right now."

The Buckeyes have three games remaining on their schedule, the first against the same Penn State that shoved them down to rock-bottom about a month ago. The teams meet tonight at 7:00 PM in State College, but that first meeting is still on the minds of the Buckeyes.

"We learned from that loss," said Thompson.

"We allowed them to push us around a little bit on our home floor, we allowed them to get into a rhythm on both sides of the ball and really dictate the way that game was played. I think we learned from it and know that we have to come out with a focus from the tip. I think this is a different team tomorrow," Thompson said.

One of the reasons the Buckeyes have been able to turn around their season has been the recent play of Thompson. He has elevated his game to become more than just a dunk-highlight on Sports Center, and that's good news for the Buckeyes.

"Everybody knows about his dunks, but that's just something that he can do and happens," said Head Coach Thad Matta.

"I love the energy he's playing with. I know everybody likes his scoring but defensively he's really doing a heck of a job for us. He's becoming one of those guys you can put on guys,

"The fact that he is scoring more has been very beneficial to us and he's made some timely, timely baskets and that's good to see. I want Sam being aggressive. If we get that position, that area scoring for us we're a better team."

OSU has games remaining at Penn State, at Indiana, and finish the season at home against Michigan State. Their main compactors for the coveted bye in the first round of the B1G tournament are Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska.

Wisconsin has three games remaining. They travel to Penn State, host Purdue and then travel to Nebraska to close out the season.

Nebraska must go to Illinois and will host Northwestern and Wisconsin.

Iowa has four games remaining. The Hawkeyes host Indiana and Purdue before traveling to Michigan State, then close out the season hosting Illinois.

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