Sunday, March 18, 2007

The last few minutes of the game....

A note to anybody thinking about playing Ohio State for the rest of this tournament.

Have a big lead with 7-8 minutes to play. A really HUGE lead. It's your only hope.

Over the final 7:27 of regulation in the Xavier game, Ohio State outscored the Musketeers 18-7 (34-16 if you count OT). But this was no accident. All year long, Ohio State has made a living out of taking close games and pulling away in the final few minutes.

Is it conditioning? Desire? The aforementioned wake-up call? I cannot explain it, I can only report what I see.

Just look at the last several weeks;

- Against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament, the Buckeyes led by 5 points with a little over 8 minutes to play. Ohio State went on a 23-11 run to close out the game in grand fashion.
- The day before against Purdue, it was a tight game with 8 minutes to play. Ohio State led by 1 at 46-45, but used the rest of the game to go on a 17-7 run.
- The day before that game, the Buckeyes led Michigan by a mere 3 points with 7 minutes left. a 20-13 run to close the game gave us the 10-point margin of victory.
- Against Wisconsin (#1 vs #2), the Badgers led 46-42 with 3:42 to play. Ohio State put the clamps down on defense and hit a mini-run of 7-2 to win the game.
- Sleepwalking against Penn State, led Lions led 43-40 with 8 minutes to play. The giant woke up, rattled off 28 points, gave up 17, and sent Penn State home an 8-point loser.
- With 8 minutes to play at home, Purdue led the Bucks 51-46. Turn on the heat, and Ohio State goes on a 17-5 run to post another big win.
- 10 minutes left, Ohio State clings to a 4-point lead at home against Iowa, 54-50. Guess what happened...Ohio State goes on a 28-13 run to finish with a 19-point victory.

I could keep going and going with these stats, but you see where it's headed. Ohio State gets STRONGER as the game wears on. Plus, how many times in that little summary did I show stats that, if extrapolated out, would give the Buckeyes over 100 points per game?

The fact is, if you don't have the Buckeyes down by a LOT when it enters the final stretch, you're in trouble against Ohio State. Ask Xavier.

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