Ohio State had a great chance to knock off Michigan in the only regular season meeting between the two arch-rivals, but once again, the team's lack of offense proved to be its undoing. The Buckeyes might play great defense, but the Wolverines are going to score some points, so you have to be able to score with them to beat them.
Thad Matta's team got a huge game from LaQuinton Ross, who had 24 points and 7 rebounds and outplayed Glenn Robinson III on both sides of the ball. However, none of his teammates were able to get anything going on offense. Ohio State shot 44% from the field, but just 15 percent from three.
Ross, at 6'8 and 220 pounds, is a smooth offensive player with NBA-caliber size and athleticism at the small forward position. However, he's struggled with his consistency as well as his approach to the game in his three years in Columbus. There are a lot of NBA scouts waiting for the light to turn on for LaQuinton.
Michigan, in direct contrast to Ohio State, got a balanced offensive effort on Tuesday, with six different players scoring at least 8 points. In John Beilein's offense, the floor is spread with shooters and the ball moves from side-to-side, making it difficult even for defensively-minded teams like the Buckeyes to shut them down.
Robinson, Nik Stauskas, Caris Levert and Derrick Walton can all stretch the floor and beat their man off the dribble and there aren't many teams who have four lock-down perimeter defenders. It doesn't get any easier when the second unit comes in either, as NCAA championship game hero Spike Albrecht and big-time recruit Zak Irvin can fill it up too.
If Michigan has a weakness, it's a lack of size and shot-blocking upfront. However, Ohio State's big men, with the exception of Ross, were unable to fully exploit that hole in the Wolverines roster. Amir Williams had seven points on 3-of-4 shooting, but he's still a long away from being a consistent low-post threat.
As talented as Michigan is, I can see the Wolverines running into trouble in the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, where they will eventually run into a two-post team that can punish them upfront. That is still a while away, though, as I'm not sure any team in the Big Ten has the size to really go ham on Michigan.
From the looks of it, the Big Ten championship could come down to Michigan's game with Michigan State in Ann Arbor on Feb. 23. Hopefully Branden Dawson has recovered from the injury he suffered when he punched a "table" earlier in the season.
Florida shows its depth in Knoxville
Playing on the road against a talented Tennessee team desperate for a signature win, No. 3 Florida used its depth to survive and pull out a 67-58 win. The Gators start four seniors who have played in three Elite Eights, but their second unit has more NBA potential, which is what makes them such a frightening opponent.
They have Kasey Hill, a 6'1, 185-pound McDonald's All-American, backing up Scottie Wilbekin at point. Hill had 4 points and 2 assists in 20 minutes on Tuesday; his ability to turn defense into offense in the open floor adds another dimension to the Gators. Billy Donovan often closes out games with a 2-PG line-up of Hill and Wilbekin.
Dorian Finney-Smith didn't have his best shooting night, but he still contributed 4 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block in 27 minutes off the bench. At 6'8 and 212 pounds, he has the length and athleticism to match up with multiple positions at the college and NBA level, giving him the defensive versatility that NBA coaches love.
And while Devon and Chris Walker aren't related, they are both elite athletes with NBA bodies -- 6'6,195 and 6'10, 220. They are probably one year away from being legitimate NBA prospects, as they will be in line to play huge roles when Patric Young, Casey Prather and Will Yeguete graduate.
For now, the Florida bench could be one of the keys for Donovan to make a run at his third NCAA championship. And when they play at Kentucky on Saturday, the Gators' ability to go nine-deep could be a huge weapon against a thin Kentucky team that doesn't like to play more than one or two guys off the bench.
Around the Country
Oklahoma State didn't do so well in their first game without Marcus Smart, as they went down to Austin and got absolutely shellacked by Texas, losing, 87-68. If you haven't already noticed, the problems with Oklahoma State go way deeper than Smart. The biggest? He has a great head of his hair and his last name rhymes with "Lord".
Clemson's K.J. McDaniels is the first ACC player with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks in a game since Maryland's Lonny Baxter in 2000.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 12, 2014
T.J. Warren had 34 points and 10 assists against Wake Forest, but the real story of the game was freshman center Beejay Anya. Anya, in case you haven't heard, is 6'9 and 325 pounds with a 7'9 wingspan - that is not a typo.