The game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Indiana Hoosiers is just a day away, but the analysis is still getting started. Both teams are among the best in the Big Ten in both shooting percentage and shooting percentage defense. It will be these two stats that will decide the winner Sunday in Columbus.
Indiana’s unique ability to shoot better than 50 percent from the field, while limiting opponents to 38 percent shooting is remarkable and a trend Ohio State must break. The Buckeyes happen to hold foes to 38.3 percent shooting, second-best in the conference behind the Hoosiers, but Ohio State only shoots 46.1 percent from the field, fourth-best in the Big Ten. A big reason for the disparity in shooting percentages is the play of the team’s stars. The Hoosiers’ Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller both shoot better than 59 percent from the field and Oladipo is hitting 52.6 percent of his shots from behind the arc. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes top-two scorers, Deshaun Thomas and Lenzelle Smith Jr., shoot around 46 percent a piece.
For Ohio State, the issue will be in shutting down the Indiana offense rather than improving their offense. In their season series with the Michigan Wolverines, the Buckeyes shot 44 percent and 51 percent from the field and allowed the Wolverines to shoot 38 percent and 47 percent from the floor. Ohio State won the game in which it shot 44 percent because it held Michigan to 38 percent shooting, but lost the game in which it shot 51 percent because it allowed the Wolverines to hit 47 percent of their shots. Two of the Hoosiers’ three losses have come when their opponents held them to under 43 percent shooting and neither team truly shot the lights out against Indiana.
As much as basketball is about trying to outscore your opponent, a good defense is so much more important than a good offense. If the Buckeyes can play their best defense of the season, they should spring the upset at home.