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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ohio State poised to make deep tourney run? Three factors that will utlimately decide their fate

The Ohio State's men's basketball team continues to defy the skeptics. From the onset of the Big Ten season, it appeared that an OSU squad minus Evan Turner for almost 8 weeks would struggle to make the NIT, let alone the NCAA tournament. Turner surprised most everyone when he returned in about half that time, and since then Ohio State has put itself in great position to win the Big Ten. Then, as the season wore on, those same critics argued that OSU was essentially a one man band, with it being Evan Turner vs. the rest of the conference. The Buckeyes would go on to defeat then conference leader Michigan State in the Breslin Center(something it had not accomplished in a very long time) with strong contributions from William Buford, David Lighty, and Jon Diebler, proving that OSU has other weapons too. Head coach Thad Matta deserves a lot of props for leading his team to a 22-7 record with essentially a six man rotation. How far the Buckeyes will go in the tournament will depend on three factors. Obviously Evan Turner getting off to a hot start and staying out of foul trouble is a must. Coach Matta will have to make sure his starters are rested between games as well, as fatigue more than likely will have a huge impact on OSU's tourney run. And finally two players you might not expect will have to play better than they have all season: Dallas Lauderdale and Kyle Madsen. Lauderdale, as OSU's sole starting big man, will have the unenviable task of trying to force OSU's opponent to beat them from the outside, and he might not have the luxury of playing some of the smaller frontcourts he is used to in the Big Ten. Madsen's role might be even more crucial, as he will need to be more of a contributor than he has, and just being a body to give Lauderdale a breather won't cut it. If these three things happen I believe Ohio State is capable of going to the sweet sixteen and maybe beyond. If, on the other hand, Ohio State shows a weakness in one of these areas, it could mean another early exit for the Buckeyes come March Madness time.

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