Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
The Big Ten is considered by some to be the premier conference in college basketball this season.
Four Big Ten teams are ranked in the top-14 of the Associated Press’ top-25 poll. No other conference has more than four teams ranked in the top-25.
In the ultra-competitive Big Ten, the difference between winning the conference and finishing in the middle of the pack could be determined by a team’s ability to protect home court. The Ohio State men’s basketball team will have a chance to do that Tuesday when they host Iowa (13-5, 2-3 Big Ten).
“You’ve got to protect home court in this league,” said junior guard Aaron Craft. “It’s very tough to win and be there at the end if you lose some home games.”
Iowa travels to Columbus riding a two-game winning streak, after losing its first three Big Ten games. But even in losses, the Hawkeyes have proved to be a competitive ball club, falling by four to No. 7 Indiana and by three to No. 13 Michigan State.
“They’ve been right there,” said coach Thad Matta of Iowa’s close losses. “They are playing great basketball right now. Our guys are fully aware of what we have to do and how we have to do it.”
Tuesday’s game will also provide an opportunity for No. 14 OSU (13-4, 3-2 Big Ten) to find another scorer to aid Deshaun Thomas. The junior forward leads the Big Ten with 20.8 points per game, but scoring has not come easy for the other Buckeyes.
In Saturday’s loss to Michigan State, Thomas scored a game-high 28 points, but no other Buckeye scored more than six.
Craft said part of the problem is OSU’s lack of execution within the offense.
“With the offense that we run, there are definitely multiple options and multiple places for different guys to score,” Craft said. “I think that at times we don’t look at those options, we kind of focus on one part of the play, and that’s part of the problem. We’re kind of taking parts of the play for granted. We have a lot of guys that are capable, it’s just finding some consistency.”
“With the offense we’ve got, anyone can score,” Thomas said. “Our offense is for anyone to get a shot off. I have faith in my guys; there are guys on this team that can score in double-digits. We’ve just got to be patient within our offense and anybody can be that second scorer.”
The Buckeyes are set to tipoff with Iowa Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.