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Defense carries Ohio State to Big Ten tournament title

Mar 17, 2013, 5:42 PM EDT

Big Ten Basketball Tournament - Championship - Wisconsin v Ohio State Getty Images

After taking care of Nebraska and Michigan State in their first two games of the Big Ten tournament, Ohio State ran into trouble on the offensive end of the floor in the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin.

Deshaun Thomas scored a team-high 17 points but he needed 19 shot attempts to do so, going 0-of-6 from beyond the arc, and as a team the Buckeyes (26-7) shot just 38.5% from the field (1-of-16 3PT).

So how did they manage to beat the Badgers 50-43, resulting in the program’s fourth Big Ten tournament crown under Thad Matta?

Defense.

Wisconsin (23-11) shot 38.3% on the afternoon and scored just two points over the final 7:03 of the game, which proved to be the Badgers’ downfall as Ohio State received key baskets from Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross down the stretch.

Essentially the Buckeyes provided a blueprint of what they’ll need to do in order to have success in the NCAA tournament. It’s no secret that outside of Thomas the Buckeyes lack consistent scorers, and even Thomas can go cold on occasion. Ohio State will need more offense from players such as Ross, whose playing time has fluctuated throughout the season due in large part to defensive issues.

With two of the Big Ten’s best perimeter defenders in Craft and Shannon Scott leading the way it will be Ohio State’s ability to put together stops that will determine how far they advance.

And if their eight-game win streak is any indication, Ohio State is more than capable of advancing deep into the tournament.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.