Having won five straight games, the Ohio State men’s basketball team goes to Chicago for this weekend’s Big Ten tournament hoping to make indelible memories.
If there’s any year to do it in the Big Ten, this might be it. The league has been full of buzzer beaters, stunning upsets and high drama from the very beginning, making it seem like this year’s conference tournament might be the best yet.
In fact, Illinois’ Brandon Paul won the first game over Minnesota with a buzzer-beating jumper from the left side, and it seems like there’s more excitement to come.
With that in mind, BuckeyeSports.com takes a look at the most memorable Ohio State moments in past Big Ten tournaments, with the thought that OSU might see some of these topped when the Buckeyes begin play tomorrow.
5. Sylvester’s Late Layup
Thad Matta’s team first showed its postseason chops in 2006, as the regular-season Big Ten champions advanced to the title game for the first time since 2003 and third time overall in just his second season.
The title-game appearances was clinched in dramatic fashion, as the Buckeyes advanced to the finals with a 52-51 semifinal victory against fifth-seeded Indiana.
After a tight, back-and-forth, physical battle, OSU set the final score when senior Matt Sylvester made a layup with 36 seconds to play after taking a pass from Terence Dials on a backdoor cut.
“I told (Terence) after the game, I’ve been giving him assists for five years now, it’s about time he gave me one,” Sylvester said.
Roderick Wilmont led IU with 16 points but missed a short rebound attempt with seconds to play after Mario Killingsworth also bricked a shot. J.J. Sullinger, who had to be taped up after he was cut by an elbow from Earl Calloway, came down with the rebound as time expired.
The Buckeyes lost final to Iowa, but Matta clearly had the team on the right track, as future years would prove.
4. Jon Diebler’s Three
An Ohio State team that started with a long unbeaten run and romped to the Big Ten title in 2011 thanks to a stacked roster was supposed to have little trouble beating upstart Penn State to capture the Big Ten tournament championship.
But the sixth-seeded Nittany Lions were hanging tough in the title game near the end of the first half, making the score 26-23 in favor of OSU when Talor Battle hit two free throws with 8.9 seconds left in the first half.
It looked like Penn State might have some momentum, then, going to the second half, but that’s when Diebler stepped in. Aaron Craft pushed the ball up the court then found Diebler looping around the arc. From there, the sharpshooter abruptly cut back left, rising and firing with an off-balance shot over Battle that hit nothing but net as the buzzer sounded.
Now up six at halftime, the Buckeyes rolled from there, quickly opening up a double-digit lead in the second half on the way to a 71-60 win that gave OSU its second tournament championship in a row.
3. Greg Oden Dunks Over Landry
This dunk came in the Buckeyes’ semifinal win vs. Purdue, but it was probably the most memorable moment of the team’s dominant run to the 2007 title.
With top-seeded Ohio State pulling away from the Boilermakers late in the contest, Oden rose above Landry for the above putback dunk that was so good, it sent the OSU freshman center into hysterics as he raced back down the court.
“I don’t know what I did,” Oden said. “I was just yelling. I enjoyed it.”
Seeing his longtime AAU teammate and friend show such emotion – including a scream and waving arms – was a sight for Mike Conley Jr.
“That was an amazing play,” he said. “It was a great moment to be a part of, watching him go crazy and wave his arms in the air.”
Oden finished with 17 points and a Big Ten tournament record 19 rebounds in the game, which OSU win by a 63-52 score.
One day later, OSU bested Wisconsin to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament – and the program’s first recognized Big Ten tournament title, as the 2002 title has been wiped from the books thanks to NCAA violations.
2. Charles Bass Off The Glass
With Ohio State and Michigan State tied at 54 late in 2003 semifinal, Tom Izzo had an idea.
The pesky eighth-seeded Buckeyes weren’t showing any signs of letting down one day after upsetting top-seeded Wisconsin, so the MSU head coach decided to make something happen.
With time ticking down and the Buckeyes holding the ball, Izzo had Jason Andreas foul OSU’s Charles Bass, a freshman forward who was on the floor because starter Velimir Radinovic had fouled out.
Izzo’s thinking? Send the little-used Bass, who hadn’t even attempted a free throw all year, to the line rather than a more experienced, composed Buckeye like senior point guard Brent Darby.
It didn’t work.
"I went to say something to the referee and Charles told me, 'Don't worry about it, I got it,' " the late Darby said. "The way he said it, he had a lot of confidence in his voice. So I stepped away from him and said, 'Do your thing.' "
Bass did exactly what, but it wasn’t pretty. His first free throw hit the glass, bounded down and went right through the hoop to give OSU a 55-54 lead with 6.1 seconds left.
The second free throw didn’t go, giving MSU a chance to win, but Chris Hill’s jumper from near the left baseline in the final seconds didn’t fall, keeping OSU’s miracle run alive.
“Charles Bass off the glass,” head coach Jim O’Brien said with a laugh.
The Buckeyes fell short against second-seeded Illinois a day later in the title game, but the win vs. MSU will always be remembered.
“Our kids, the last couple of days, just stayed together,” O’Brien said. “This was a terrific, terrific, terrific win for our guys.”
1. Evan Turner’s Shot
Was there ever any doubt?
What more needs to be said? Top-seeded Ohio State, down by two with seconds left against archrival Michigan. The Buckeyes get the ball to their heart and soul, eventual national player of the year Evan Turner. He crosses the time line, shoots without being stopped from 35 feet and …
Turner’s reaction – he knew he had struck the dagger – was priceless. Two days later, Matta did a little dance on the makeshift stage at center court after the Buckeyes won the title with a thumping of Minnesota.
But the overwhelming memory from that tournament will be the shot that should always live on in Ohio State lore.