Basketball’s regular season is in the books. It’s officially time to get serious: Its tournament time. It’s also Wednesday night and you know what that means… Let’s rumble!
Hoops on Hoops
The Buckeyes finished the regular season Sunday with a 13 point home win over Illinois. They finish with a record of 23-7, good for a tie for second place in the Big Ten and the number two overall seed in the Big Ten Tournament. They now await tomorrow’s winner of Purdue vs Nebraska and will play Friday at 6:30 eastern on the Big Ten Network.
The season was filled with ups and downs, learning experiences and unfortunately some major underachievement.
Losing a halftime lead at Cameron Indoor Stadium and falling to Duke seemed to mark a learning experience: You can’t let good teams off the hook, especially on the road.
The second half debacle of the home loss to Kansas certainly was a sign of underachieving, as was the game in Campaign against the Fighting Illini back on January 5th.
They had a huge learning experience in a win at home over TTUN. The lesson learned: Never take your foot off the gas. A lesson we thought they learned at Duke.
Two tough last second losses, one in Ann Arbor and one in East Lansing, were followed up with a crushing home loss to Indiana. All three paled in comparison to the drubbing in Madison to the Wisconsin Badgers on March 17th.
But then something clicked. The Buckeyes rattled off five wins in a row to close the season highlighted by a home win against top 10 ranked Michigan State and a shocker on the road beating number 2 Indiana in Bloomington.
Suddenly the “left for dead” Buckeyes are gelling. Sam Thompson is hitting big shots. Shannon Scott is playing incredible defense alongside Aaron Craft giving the Buckeyes arguably the most dangerous defensive backcourt in the country. Deshaun Thomas is steady and looks ready to blow up at any second with a 25-30 point game. Thad Matta seems to have his interior rotations working. All of this at the most important of times: Tournament time.
Big Dance seeding
Along with winning the championship tournament of the hands down toughest basketball conference in the country, the Buckeyes are playing this weekend for seeding and location in the NCAA tournament. Most prognosticators have the Buckeyes as either the last 2 seed or the first 3 seed, ranked somewhere between number 8 and 10 overall. A few even have them as the last number 3 seed and a high 4 seed, ranked 12-16 overall. The Big Ten tournament will have a lot to say about how this finishes for Ohio State.
A Buckeye win on Friday puts them in the semi-finals and should all but lock up a number three seed at the very worse. Win on Saturday and play in the championship on Sunday and the chances of a two seed increase. Take Sunday and win the whole thing? A two seed is a lock.
Conversely, if they fall on Friday they’ll sweat it out to see if they’re a three or a four.
As for the location, don’t ask me how they figure this stuff out. All I know is what all the “experts” are saying: Win on Friday and likely be playing the first rounds in the Dayton regional. Lose Friday and they are likely headed to Auburn Hills, Michigan for the opening rounds.
One other note on the NCAA tournament
When the draw is announced on Sunday evening it is expected that (assuming they both win their conference tournaments) Duke will be the number one overall seed and Indiana somewhere behind them in the top four claiming another of the number one seeds in the tournament. I’ve already heard a lot of “I hope Ohio State can avoid those regions” talk. I’m not in that camp. Familiarity breeds contempt and the Buckeyes know they gave Duke a win in November and can beat them. They also are very familiar with the Hoosiers and may face them for a third time on Sunday.
I’m not afraid of anyone in the NCAA tournament. A month ago I couldn’t say that. The odds on Ohio State winning it all are of course not as good as some others. That said, there isn’t anyone in the country Ohio State cannot beat, Duke and Indiana included.
Big Ten awards
Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas were named first team all-Big Ten on Monday night. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott were named to the all-Defensive team.
The Buckeyes held their “pro day” on Friday. This is where all the guys eligible for the NFL draft get a chance to show their stuff to NFL scouts on their home turf. It’s also a chance for guys who weren’t invited to the NFL Combine (Travis Howard) to show what they can do. A guy who turned a lot of heads and had people talking did so unintentionally: Troy Smith was asked by Jake Stoneburner to be his quarterback during the workout. Apparently Troy made quite the impression firing on point lasers to Stoneburner on a dead sprint down the seams and on post patterns. Troy says he has no real plans of trying to make a comeback, but if someone wanted to talk, he’d listen.
Ryan Shazier is working his way back from surgery on a sports hernia he came down with sometime back in October. He is attending spring practices and doing light work. It is expected he will be back full-go for the last week of spring drills and the Scarlet and Grey game.
After practicing on Tuesday and Thursday of last week, the Buckeyes are now off for a week for spring break. Practices will resume on March 19th.
John Simon will hold his own workout for pro scouts on Monday, March 25 at 9am. He’s still recovering from a shoulder injury. Simon told reporters he will do defensive line and linebacker drills.
Reid Fragel told reporters while working out and training at LeCharles Bentley’s school for offensive linemen he has spent a good deal of time with two former Buckeyes who are doing pretty well for themselves in the NFL these days, Michael Brewster and Alex Boone. It still amazes me the turnaround Boone has made and that Brewster went undrafted last year. I can’t applaud LCB any louder for the work he is doing.
Word out of camp from the first two workouts is that Jordan Hall is fully recovered and looks like he will be a huge threat in Urban Meyer’s offense for opposing Big Ten defenses. I’d cite a media outlet as a source for that information, but they all have reported it in some form or another.
Urban Meyer praised Braxton Miller’s footwork. The time spent with George Whitfield is already paying off.
Drew Basil (so far) appears to be filling the punting spot vacated by Ben Buchanon.
Wrap it up
One and done. Win and move on. The mystery of the draw, who you will meet in the upcoming rounds and the talk of dream matchups finally being realized. This is what makes college basketball fun: The tournament! Until next week, Go Bucks!
Metallica track of the week
What could be a better motto for the Buckeye hoops team than “What don’t kill ya, make ya more strong!”? Let’s check out the video for Broken, Beat and Scarred off of Death Magnetic. I love this video because A. I love the song and B. it’s a compilation of clips from the World Magnetic tour and brings back great memories!
But wait! There’s more!
If you follow me on Twitter or know me outside the BBC, you know I have a big, huge, massive crush on these Danish rock n’ metalers called Volbeat. You’ve probably heard their songs Warriors Call or Fallen that where on their last album Beyond Heaven, Above Hell. Well, on April 9th, their new album Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies hits stores and Itunes. Monday, they released the first video/single from it called The Cape Of Our Hero. Here it is, check it out!!!