Three thoughts on Indiana-Ohio St.
Indiana dominated the turnover battle in Saturday's upset win over Ohio State
No. 2 OSU faced some foul trouble, but the Buckeyes' key players still performed
The Hoosiers appear to be legit with two of the nation's three best victories
Here are three quick thoughts on Indiana's compelling 74-70 win over Ohio State on Saturday, marking the first time the Hoosiers have beaten the AP No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the same season:
1. Turnover is fair play. Indiana is one of the national leaders in forcing turnovers (25.5 percent of possessions, 16th in D-I, per kenpom.com) but the Hoosiers weren't able to do it the other night in East Lansing. IU got back to its pilfering, disruptive ways against Ohio State, forcing the Buckeyes into an uncharacteristic 17 TOs (in 68 possessions or so). The three biggest ones came in succession down the stretch, with the middle one leading to Victor Oladipo's go-ahead layup and the last one fumbling away a layup that would have put the Buckeyes back on top. Ohio State has only been above 20 percent turnover rate twice this season, and Saturday's loss was their most careless effort of the campaign. And it cost them.
2. Foul trouble was a factor, but not an excuse. Yes, the Buckeyes had some guys in foul trouble, but OSU's main guys (Jared Sullinger and William Buford) weren't very far off their season averages for minutes and none of the Buckeyes fouled out of the game, unlike IU center Cody Zeller, who watched the final 2:27 from the pine. That's the same 2:27 where Ohio State, with all its players at its disposal, turned a one-point lead into a four-point loss by kicking the ball around late. Maybe blame Aaron Craft's 38 minutes in the game, in which he had a career-high tying six turnovers and his first game this season in which he had more turnovers than assists. Bottom line: The game was there to be won by Ohio State, and the Buckeyes fell short.
3. Is Indiana for real? Well, along with UNLV's win over North Carolina, the Hoosiers have two of the nation's three best wins this season. Before tonight's win, the Hoosiers were No. 8 in both Ken Pomeroy's and Jeff Sagarin's overall rankings, and No. 7 in Sagarin's "predictor" rankings, which incorporates margins of victory and is a better predictive measure of future accomplishment. They also have the No. 7 offensive efficiency and No. 23 defensive efficiency, per kenpom.com. What does all that mean? It means, yeah, it appears Indiana is very legit. In a year where there's some (perceived) separation between the top four or five and everyone else, teams like Missouri and Indiana may not "feel" like top-7 teams, but it's possible they are. They also won at NC State, which is a better road win than most teams have at this point. Enjoy it, Bloomington. It looks like your program is back a year early, and the future looks very promising.