Wednesday, March 24

Just Too Sweeeeeet!

Yes, that was an nWo Wolfpack shoutout. It also refers to the Ohio St hoops team making their way to the Sweet 16. Some solid play by the Bucks and some incredible luck sets up this weekend, which is OSU's Final Four ticket to lose.

Let's step back a bit, and see what events led up to this suddenly Buckeye-friendly bracket. It starts out with the Big Ten tournament, and a first-round date with that damn school up north. Evan Turner and company got tired of just beating those morons' brains out repeatedly, so they decided to have some fun and rip out the hearts of the wolverine faithful in new and creative ways. Sleepwalking through the first 39 minutes and 40 seconds of the game, OSU was tied with michigan at 66. They proceeded to let Manny Harris hit an apparent game-winning jumper with under ten seconds to play. I could just see Thad Matta on the sidelines trying to hold back his smirk, as he knew what was coming next. The ball was inbounded to ET, who took it to half court then launched up a shot that was dead on to send michigan packing once and for all, 69-68. Clearly, Matta and Turner had this planned the entire game, and executed it perfectly.

Things didn't get much easier in the semi-final game against Illinois. The Illini, thinking they had to win this game to get into the tourney (which they in fact did), had much more to play for, and it showed. Illinois led by six at the half, and looked like they had this won until Evan "turn"ed it on (I couldn't resist) and sent the game into OT. The Illini jumped out to a quick lead and again appeared to be tournament-bound, but again ET would not be denied and tied the game. Just as in regulation, Illinois had the chance to take the last shot, but failed to even get an attempt. The Buckeyes grew tired of this game, and rolled in double OT to win by seven. Turner led the way with 31 points.

The Big Ten final was much less exciting, as Ohio St just pounded Minnesota, 90-61. The Villain (if you don't know why I called him that, you didn't take my advice and still haven't read Club Trillion ) dropped another 31, along with 11 boards and 6 dimes.

The conference tourney championship propelled the Buckeyes to a #2 seed in the Big Dance, but somehow landed them in the Midwest, or the "bracket of death." The Midwest featured the tournament's overall #1 in Kansas, a hot Georgetown team at the 3, and tourney coaching legends Gary Williams and Tom Izzo holding down the 4 and 5 spots. Ouch.

Ohio St took care of their business, cruising to a first round victory over the Gauchos of University of California Santa Barbara, 68-51. The second round game with 10th seeded Georgia Tech was very close for the first half, but eventually Ohio St started to pull away. GT made a few late runs to make me a little nervous, but ultimately the Buckeyes had it under control, and went on to win 75-66. Turner had an average line of 24-9-9.

Ohio St advancing to the Sweet 16 was to be expected. What happened in the rest of the Midwest was anything but, mainly thanks to the man, the myth, the Farok. Northern Iowa won the 8-9 game in the first round over UNLV on a deep buzzer-beating three by Ali Farokhmanesh. Last week you would have thought I made that name up, but now he's a household name. UNI also has guys named Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Jordan Eglseder, who looks like he's 40 and too out of shape and uncoordinated to play in a church league, and Lucas O'Rear, who has curly hair, a shamrock tattoo, and mutton chops that would make Abe Lincoln jealous. How can you not love this team? Anyway, they went out in the next round and beat Kansas, in what could be one of the biggest upsets in tourney history, when Farokmanesh buried an open 3 pointer on a fast break instead of trying to run clock and get fouled. With balls that big, Ali needed a wheelbarrow to carry them out of the stadium.

Elsewhere, Georgetown got pummeled by 14th seed Ohio in the first round, and Michigan St star Kalin Lucas was injured in a game where they would go on to beat Maryland anyway, and is out for the remainder of the tournament. So that leaves us with this: #9 Northern Iowa vs. #5 Michigan St and #6 Tennessee vs. #2 Ohio St in the region's semi-final games. Suddenly things are looking much easier for the Fighting Brutuses. While the teams left in OSU's Final 4 path are nothing to sneeze at, the Buckeyes are certainly now the odds-on favorite to come out of the Midwest. I'll be back next week with another update, hopefully with as good of news as this one.


1 comment:

Andy said...

My two favorite parts of this article: the description of Ali's balls, and Titus' use of "The Villain."

I also like the part where we're going to the Final Four.