The first weekend of March Madness is in the books. Just like every single four day weekend, basketball fans at tBBC saw their ups and downs. Things started off horribly when Vee Sanford banked home the winning layup against the Buckeyes on Thursday. It was that same Dayton team that upset Syracuse later in the weekend, in Buffalo. The Flyers were one of the many upset artists on the weekend, including Stanford — the team they will play this upcoming weekend. We saw the only undefeated team say goodbye to the rest of the season, and a bunch of one and done studs mold into a team.
And the two top freshman in the country failed to taste the sweetness of being one of the final sixteen teams standing.
Now that your bracket it ripped up and you could care less about winning one dollar let alone a billion, we begin getting you ready for the weekend with our regional previews of the Sweet Sixteen.
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Arena: FedEx Forum (Home of the Memphis Grizzlies)
TV Affiliation: CBS
The Florida Gators and the Xavier Musketeers squared off in a New Year’s Eve showdown yesterday afternoon. With the day off work, a trip to Cincinnati seemed to be in order to see these two teams live. The Buckeyes already faced Florida this season, and we were given a first impression from that encounter, but the opportunity to see how the team had progressed since November 16th was intriguing. Xavier is a school not on the Buckeye schedule this season, but they have become a regular NCAA Tournament visitor, so the game promised to be an exciting contest. Also lest we forget, Thad made his bones at Xavier prior to coming to Columbus, so a visit to Cincinnati would provide a look into the atmosphere that our coach had to leave behind to join the Buckeyes.
The Musketeers play at the Cintas Center near downtown Cincinnati. The Cintas Center opened in 2000 and can seat over 10,000 people for basketball games. There really is a buzz as you enter the arena, and it quickly becomes apparent that Xavier enjoys an intense home court advantage. In fact, they entered Friday’s game on a 30-game home winning streak, second only to the Kansas Jayhawks. While there are still some silly fan giveaways during the timeouts, the “production” of the game isn’t too extensive, and overall the Cintas Center provides a great venue for a college basketball game. Most importantly, it gets extremely loud in the arena with the sound descending down on the court.
On Tuesday the basketball Buckeyes traveled to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators. While the first half seemed to reveal some weaknesses, the Buckeyes came on very strong in the second half to secure the victory over a tough Florida team for their first big win of the season over a ranked opponent. The final score was 93-75, a very strong showing on the road against the #10 ranked team in the country.
Florida started off with press defense, but Jared Sullinger displayed a nice post move and jump hook to get OSU on the board early. Florida came right back, pushing the ball and applying pressure, but Diebler got free for a shot from downtown to get him started. The hot shooting continued, with Lighty banking in a nice mid-range shot, helping the Bucks get settled into their rhythm. Florida maintained their early pace, but the Buckeyes bore down on defense and forced the Gators into some tough shots.
Aaron Craft subbed in at the first break and took over the point duties. Lighty followed with a strong drive to the hoop for the and-1. Florida countered with a nice floater from Walker, but OSU immediately countered with a drive and dish from Buford to Sullinger for the dunk. The pace slowed slightly, and Florida began to get repeated second chances as the first half wore on, cutting the lead to 1 by the 12:00 mark. A Buford miss allowed Florida to come down for yet another shot off the offensive board to take the lead.