Ohio State’s offense has looked formidable at times during nonconference play even with its perimeter issues, but the defense is the calling card that could bring it home a Big Ten crown.
The Buckeyes rank No. 1 in Ken Pomeroy’s pace-adjusted defensive efficiency ratings and have elite talent on every level at that end of the court.
Craft and Scott make up the best defensive combination in the country at the guard spot, Smith Jr. and Thompson are lengthy and athletic and get in passing lanes and influence shots at forward and Amir Williams has finally turned into a defensive force down low. Few teams in the country are better at forcing turnovers and then turning those into easy opportunities on the other end.
While having impactful defensive talent across the board is critically important, it is Scott and Craft that keep the engine running. Each is arguably one of the best five defenders in the nation at an individual level, which means they are that much more formidable when paired together. They are averaging nearly five steals a night as a pair and will make life particularly difficult for Big Ten ball-handlers.
If the Buckeyes stick to the defensive script and hit a few more from the perimeter, a conference crown could be theirs.
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