Now that the proverbial dust has settled from the 2010-2011 men’s college basketball season, it’s time to reflect a bit on the season past and pick out of a few of the headlines, highlights, or otherwise newsworthy items that seemed to define this season. Obviously it was a great season for Buckeye fans, and one item of note for college basketball fans in general was the play of our team, and particularly Jared Sullinger, but for now we’ll save the Buckeye-centric comments and take a broader view.
There is always a lot of chatter about the different major conferences, comparing their strengths and weaknesses, arguing for which conference is the toughest, and celebrating wins over teams from other conferences early in the season. This season was no different in terms of the boasting, but in a number of ways this really was the Season of the Big East. This isn’t an argument for the Big East’s superiority – just an observation that week-to-week the Big East was getting a lot of attention due to its number of quality teams. Certainly the Tournament Selection Committee bought into that impression, granting 11 NCAA Tournament berths to teams from the conference, including a #1 seed for regular season Big East champion Pittsburgh. Although three of the four most highly seeded Big East teams lost in only the second round of the tournament (Pitt, Notre Dame, Syracuse), it was Big East Tournament winner UConn that took care of business, claiming the NCAA Tournament title as well. Read More
The Final Four of the 2011 NCAA Tournament has now been set, and as Eric’s mini-post highlighted, this year’s remaining teams make for an interesting assortment. Four teams, one each from the SEC, Big East, Horizon League, and Colonial Athletic Association will take their hopes and dreams to Houston next weekend to see who will come out on top. With the differing characteristics of these teams, it should be an entertaining weekend of basketball.
Of course, an Ohio State fan choosing to watch the Final Four games will have to decide which team warrants his or her support. With the Buckeyes knocked out, and seemingly no clear-cut alternative of which team to root for given the lack of Big Ten teams, who rises to the top? Unless you’ve got a significant other’s alma mater still in the running, tBBC is here to help. Let’s take a look at each remaining team going into next weekend and try to figure out who is deserving of a little Buckeye love… Read More
On Friday night things could truly start to get interesting for Buckeye fans in the NCAA Tournament. After first and second round blowouts, albeit a rather unexpected one in the case of George Mason, Ohio State next faces the Kentucky Wildcats. If you want to talk about basketball royalty, Kentucky is near the top, and while this year’s team may not quite fit the mold of the program’s past, it has plenty of talent to pose a legitimate threat to the Buckeyes’ run through the 2011 Tournament.
It’s almost as if Kentucky has flown under the radar a bit this season, having lost John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Patrick Patterson…and Daniel Orton…and Eric Bledsoe…and some others from last year’s high-profile team. After putting together a solid season in a relatively weak SEC this year, UK romped through the conference tournament and laid the smack-down to rival (and subsequent higher NCAA tournament seed) Florida in the championship game. You’ll be hard pressed to find many teams younger than Coach Cal’s 2010-11 Wildcats, which has 5 out of its 10-man roster representing the freshmen class while only featuring one senior, but clearly the team is dangerous. Here’s why: Read More
Ohio State put on a show on Sunday in second round action of the NCAA Tournament, blowing out the George Mason Patriots by 0ver 30 points, 98-66. The Buckeyes looked nearly unstoppable in the game, shooting a very high percentage from the floor and displaying the balance that has brought them to this point in the year. David Lighty was particularly notable, posting a game-high 25 points on 7-7 shooting from three.
George Mason got off to fast start, opening up an early 9-point lead before Ohio State founds its rhythm. Then the blitz was on, with the Buckeye players taking turns knocking down an array of outside jumpers and powering the ball up inside. Lighty’s third trey put Ohio State in the lead with 13 minutes left in the first, and a nice Craft-to-Sullinger play got the show started for the rest of the way.
Ohio State’s success in the first half was driven by intense defensive pressure, shutting down the penetrate-and-dish approach that was adopted early by the Patriots. Read More
On Sunday the Buckeyes will continue their 2011 NCAA Tournament journey when they take on the George Mason Patriots, who prevailed in their first round game against Villanova on Friday. George Mason’s victory was one of the numerous thrilling finishes from this year’s tournament thus far, as the Patriots came back from being down six in the final two minutes to claim the win. A three-pointer from sophomore Luke Hancock with 21 seconds remaining gave George Mason the lead over Villanova, and they were able to hold on for the final few ticks to advance in the bracket.
George Mason is most well known for its epic run to the Final Four in the 2006 Tournament, where they lost to eventual champion Florida in the semifinal game. The Patriots have been back to the tourney since then, but have failed to advance beyond the first round until this year. Jim Larranaga, the coach of that Final Four team, is still at the helm for George Mason and is happy to facilitate hopes of another run through the Big Dance. Ohio State should beware, as this team is focused on making their own story and not just making an appearance for the sake of saying they participated. Read More
Wrapping up our look across the shootyhoops landscape, with Ohio State’s East Region. Don’t forget to get your picks in for tBBCBC before tip-off tomorrow- we’ve also linked to our “Impressions” of some of these teams from earlier in the year.
This is my worst nightmare.
A bit of a confession… I was a North Carolina fan as a kid (not living in Ohio), and loved Jordan, Perkins, Worthy, and Dean Smith basketball. Then, to make things worse, I did a grad degree in Lexington and worked with the athletic tutoring program during the Pitino/Mashburn era… yup, I was around for “The Shot“. Add to that some family in West Virginia (it’s all relative), a six year stint in Seattle, and the fact that I’ve finally come to my senses and follow Ohio State full time and this year’s East Region is a personal history of my career as a fan.
In addition to that, it’s got to be the most difficult region in recent memory. We talked about this in this week’s tBBC Radio Hour, but I’ve got to agree with Jeff Rapp’s assessment that this one is “loaded up”:
Yeah, it’s a tough region. But I’m a tough guy, so here’s what you need to know…
We continue our look at the NCAA tournament field with our third of three regions. Jay and Joe already did a fantastic job with the West and Southeast regions yesterday. The Southwest region seems a lot easier to predict than the Southeast with a lot fewer chances for upsets in the first round. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some teams to look out for, though!
Favorites: There is no question about the top favorite for this bracket. Kansas, last year’s overall #1 seed, is in no danger of facing the same fate as last year. This year’s team is a dangerously deep and talented group, not dependent on any one player to get the job done. The Morris brothers, Markieff and Marcus, lead the team in points per game and rebounds per game as well as leading a trio of fantastic frontcourt players. Overall, Kansas plays with an incredibly fast pace, and runs with a significant height advantage that could give their opponents trouble.
Keep an eye on Purdue as well. While the Boilermakers ended the season in pathetic fashion (losses to Iowa and Michigan State), they are still a spectacularly dangerous team when they’re on their game. Expect Matt Painter to lead his team deep into the tournament as he’ll be more than capable of refocusing his troops on the importance of March.