2011 Ohio State Basketball
Buckeyes Win Big 10 Title, Secure No. 1 Overall Seed
Let the Madness begin.
With a 71-60 victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Big Ten Tournament final on Sunday, the Ohio State Buckeyes won their second consecutive conference championship and locked up the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
As he has done the entire season, freshman standout, Jared Sullinger, propelled the victory with 15 points to go along with 13 rebounds on his way to becoming the tournament's most outstanding player. Sullinger averaged 16.3 points and 14 rebounds in the tournament to help the top-seeded Buckeyes (32-2) repeat as champions.
William Buford scored 18 points and Jon Diebler added 15 for the Buckeyes, who also won the conference's regular-season title.
Talor Battle scored 24 points and Jeff Brooks added 19 for Penn State (19-14), which reached the conference final for the first time in school history. They would later clinch a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001.
The weekend belonged to Sullinger, Buford and Diebler.
Fighting for their NCAA tournament lives, the bubble-team Wolverines put up a good fight but the Buckeye scoring trio was just too much as the Bucks walked away with a 68-61 victory.
Sullinger recorded another double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds while Diebler and Buford added 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Despite the defeat, much like the Nittany Lions, the Wolverines would be rewarded by the selection committee, earning a bid to the Big Dance.
The weekend proved to show why the Buckeyes were named the tournament's overall No. 1 seed as they displayed a total team effort at both ends of the floor.
Role players Aaron Craft, David Lighty and Dallas Lauderdale controlled the defensive end of the floor. Craft and Lighty provided in-your-face perimeter pressure while Lauderdale controlled the paint and rim. Their defensive prowess allowed Sullinger, Diebler and Buford to focus on the offensive end. This balance at both ends has been the driving force behind the team's success.
Unselfishness and focus are two more attributes in this Buckeye squad.
Not a single Buckeye player scored over 20 points over the weekend. OSU seems to never force bad shots and work inside-out with Sullinger. They use team's focus on Sullinger to kick start supreme ball-movement which often leads to easy shots.
The Buckeyes execute their game plan and rarely come out flat.
This mixture of superb young talent with veteran leadership is a deadly combination as they prepare for their first round matchup.
As the No. 1 overall, the Bucks have the advantage of playing in Cleveland, OH, a city that is a mere couple hours North of Columbus which has a large Buckeye following.
The Buckeyes will play in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament Friday in Cleveland against the winner of the University of Texas-San Antonio vs. Alabama State first round game Wednesday in Dayton.
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