Ohio State Basketball: Why the Buckeyes Have the Best Defense in the Nation

Coming back from eight points down in the final 50 seconds of a game under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden just isn’t supposed to happen at the collegiate level.

Maybe if Reggie Miller was out there to break Spike Lee’s heart by draining a couple of three-pointers and stealing an inbounds pass to shock the Knicks, but something like that just doesn’t happen from a college team that had scored a mere 50 points in the game’s first 39 minutes.

Yet, that is exactly what did happen when Ohio State kicked its nation’s best defense into gear against Notre Dame on Dec. 21.

The Buckeyes instituted a full-court press and shackled the ball-handlers of the Irish, and in one rosy-cheeked flash, Aaron Craft was hitting Lenzelle Smith Jr. on the baseline for the game-winning basket.

Of course, for good measure, Craft and Smith combined to knock the ball loose one last time as Notre Dame attacked the basket in the final seconds. It was one of those rare memorable non-conference wins in December in a sport that is almost solely defined by what happens in March.

It was only possible because the Scarlet and Gray have the best defense in the entire country.

Don’t just take my word for it though. Ken Pomeroy ranks the Buckeyes as the No. 1 team in the nation in his pace-adjusted defensive-efficiency metrics, which is a much better system of comparing different defenses than merely looking at points allowed.

Pomeroy’s rankings take into…

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