In Bubble Battle, Buckeyes Look Good by Holding Off Indiana, Which Is Likely Out

Herb Gould

Today’s wesson, as Elmer Fudd would say: With Kaleb Wesson back in the lineup, Ohio State is a ve-wy formidable team.

The No. 8 Buckeyes, who had lost three in a row without Wesson, taught No. 9 Indiana a lesson 79-75 in their second-round Big Ten tournament meeting at the United Center in Chicago on Thursday.

Ohio State, which had slipped to The Bubble while Wesson was sidelined for unspecified unsavory deeds, proved itself very NCAA-tournament worthy.

The 6-9 sophomore had 17 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks, two steals, three assists and imposed his will in other intangible ways in his first appearance in four games.

He failed to make so much as third team All-Big Ten, meriting only Honorable Mention. But if there are 15 players better than what he showed vs. Indiana, the league has a lot of serious ballers.

In the likely event that the Selection Committee is taking notes, Ohio State should now be a lock for the Field of 68.

And if the Buckeyes remain a No. 12 seed, as bracket guys indicated before their IU win, you don’t want to be that No. 5.

Ohio State will have a chance to make that point when it faces No. 1 seed Michigan State in the quarter-finals on Friday.

If Tom Izzo was tempted to linger over dinner on Thursday at Gene & Georgetti’s after viewing tape of Ohio State’s recent losses, he no longer is.

As for Indiana, which was among the First Four Out before it played Ohio State, the Hoosiers are likely to be consigned to the NIT, where they would be a force if they decide to be interested.

IU made 17 turnovers, but it seemed like more, especially when the Hoosiers were storming back from a 63-43 deficit to make it a one-possession game in the final minute. Too many unforced errors among the miscues spoiled the comeback.

Maybe there’s a way Indiana can sneak into the NCAA tournament, but that seems highly doubtful. And when you win one game between Jan. 3 and Feb. 26, when IU went 1-12, there should be no complaints.

Ohio State, meanwhile, looked like a very complete team in holding off the mercurial Hoosiers.

Four Buckeyes starters were in double figures, including both Wessons, Kaleb and his ``big’’ brother, 6-6 junior Andre Wesson. All in all, a very enjoyable day for their dad, Keith Wesson, who averaged 3.1 points a game at Ohio State in 1982-87.


Herb Gould