Originally posted on Inside The Shoe
I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving, but it is back to business now for the basketball Buckeyes. And it is everybody's favorite time of year: the ACC/Big Ten Challenge! What's that? You are an Ohio State fan, don't really care about basketball and haven't followed the team much, but since football season just ended you figured you would watch a couple of games? Well, lucky for you I have decided to take a break from my usual after-work routine (Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and sleep) to give you an idea of what to expect.
The Big Ten won the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the very first time last season, after a decade of futility. This year's Challenge looks to be very competitive as well, with games like Michigan State vs. Duke, North Carolina @ Illinois and our very own Buckeyes playing on the road at Florida State. The Seminoles are a respectable 5-1 in this young season but have only really played one quality opponent, the Florida Gators. The Gators also happen to represent FSU's only loss.
Let's look at some starting lineups:
Florida State is actually able to match up (size-wise) with the Buckeyes. What strikes me most about these statistics is, who thought David Lighty would be Ohio State's leading scorer after five games? He would have been my third choice before the season (maybe) behind Buford and Sullinger. Good for him, because you would be hard pressed to find a player in the NCAA who deserves a breakout season more than David Lighty. He has taken the ball strong into the lane and then finished strong. Plus, he is second on the team in three-point shooting at 43 percent. Both of these teams dip into their reserves, and there are a couple of guys to look for, specifically:
Florida State gets solid production from its two main bench guys, sophomore shooting guard Michael Snaer and junior big man Bernard James. James' per game averages of nearly eight points, six rebounds and three blocks are very impressive considering he plays less than one half per game, while Snaer is sitting pretty at 50 percent from behind the arc so far this year. Both guys play more than listed starter Luke Loucks, so it is safe to assume these guys will be on the floor quite a bit.
Ohio State's bench has been very impressive so far this year. Aaron Craft has been a Godsend at the point guard position, as he leads the team in assists and has shown great poise in clutch moments, such as the second half at Florida earlier this season. Deshaun Thomas, while not nearly as willing to share the rock as Craft, has been a scoring machine. Averaging 15 points a game, he is third on the team behind only Lighty and Sully. He is also third on the team in rebounds per game, behind only.......Lighty and Sully.
Field Goal %
Free Throw %
When looking at the overall team statistics, nothing major jumps out at me. Both teams are about the same from behind the arc and from the free throw line, although FSU has nearly 50 more free throw attempts. The Seminoles get more blocks and steals per game but also turn the ball over themselves more often. However, since this is still before conference play, a lot of these numbers can be misleading. When you look at the big picture, Florida State seems to be a middle of the road Big Ten team. This is not a game to take lightly, but this is definitely a game that Ohio State should be able to assert themselves in.
One thing I do want to look for is how William Buford performs. His numbers are alright so far, but he was expected to be the go-to guy this season. I am not complaining at all that Lighty has stepped up instead, but Buford has just looked passive to me so far. I might be nit-picking, but it sure would be nice to see him get a little more aggressive and stop settling for long jump shots.
Now that football is over (except for one game in six weeks), you might as well sit back and enjoy what is bound to be a great week, followed by a great season, of Big Ten basketball.
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