Ohio State had battled some nagging problems all season. The Buckeyes have struggled to find an offensive and defensive presence in the post after two-time All-American Jared Sullinger departed after last season for the NBA. They have also shot poorly in their biggest games, failing to hit 34 percent of their shots from the field in the losses to Duke, Kansas and Illinois.
The Buckeyes have been at their best against their worst opponents, and vice versa. They came into the game 12-0 vs. unranked teams and 0-3 against those in the Top 25. Their losses included defeats at Duke (ranked No. 1 before losing its first game on Saturday), at home against No. 6 Kansas and a lopsided defeat at No. 12 Illinois on Jan. 5.
The capacity crowd was loud and boisterous from the beginning. Students had camped out for a couple of days on the concrete just outside the side door of Value City Arena. There was a large banner above the tents that read, "Matta-ritaville," in honor of coach Thad Matta and echoing Duke's "Krzyzewskiville."
Matta improved to 17-3 against Michigan.
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