Our friends at Campus Insiders are taking a look around the nation to help fans get ready for the inaugural “College Football Playoff” season. Here’s their take on the Scarlet and Gray, including a look at breakout players and scheduling possibilities:
Gotta’ say that I agree with their assessment of the Buckeyes’ biggest challenge, but disagree vehemently with their prediction on that outcome.
|Part two of our conference preview looks at the “group of death” and a likely conference title game:|
Many feel the east will be a battle of 2 teams and the winner of the November 8th battle in East Lansing between Ohio State and Michigan State can go ahead and make plans for Indy.
OHIO STATE 12-2 (8-0)
There is no doubt that all of Buckeye nation is still reeling from the 10 point loss to Michigan State in last year’s B1G Championship game.
There are so many “what if’s” from that game: What if they don’t have the 3 personal fouls on the Spartans first drive? What if they give the ball to Hyde on 4th and 1? What if……..okay, I’ll stop. There’s no doubt Urban Meyer will use that loss as motivation for the 2014 Buckeyes.
The turnover for this squad was quite large. Gone are 4 5th’s of an offensive line that many believed was one of the best in the nation last year as is its work horse back Carlos Hyde. Also gone are Philly Brown, Ryan Shazier, Bradley Roby, Christian Bryant, and C.J. Barnett.
Now, some will say that losing players on defense isn’t such a bad thing. The front seven should be very very solid. Joey Bosa, Noah Spence, Adolphis Washington, and Michael Bennett should keep a ton of pressure on B1G qb’s while the secondary led by Doran Grant and Von Bell begin to mesh.
The best news of the offseason was most surely the return of Braxton Miller. Miller is considered by many to be a preseason top 5 Heisman candidate but will have to do it behind a rebuilt offensive line and with a new running mate in his backfield. Ezekiel Elliott is the odds on favorite to take the torch from Hyde. Elliott showed glimpses of greatness when given a chance last year. The Buckeyes B1G portion of their schedule shapes up rather nice.
Home games against Rutgers, Illinois, Indiana, and TSUN seems rather easy and to most, their only tough road test will fall on November 8th as they travel to East Lansing for a date with Sparty. Other road games include Maryland, Penn State, and Minnesota putting the Buckeyes in a great position for a return trip to Indy and a date with Wisconsin.
MICHIGAN STATE 13-1 (8-0) Read More
Before you do, read this. I make no guarantees, but this will help you not finish last. Ethel the mail lady won’t read this. Let her finish last.
Like one of my favorite one-hit wonders we will Head East and preview the region nobody is really talking about.
That happens when the Midwest Region has all the best teams and somehow, the 1996 Bulls as well.
East games are in Raleigh, Spokane, San Antonio and Buffalo and finish at Madison Square Garden in The Big Apple.
Favorite: Virginia is the No. 1 seed on the strength of a regular-season and ACC tournament championship. The politicking (reads: whining) about how good the ACC is by Coach K didn’t hurt either.
That’s how the conference ended up with a team in the First Four. Not a great team in my opinion but good enough to make it to New York because of the draw.
Michigan State is the sexy pick here. The Spartans did struggle at times in the regular season due to injuries, but they are healthy now and on a roll after winning the Big 10/11/12 Tournament.
Adreian Payne is a beast inside and Gary Harris makes the Spartans go at both ends. Tom Izzo knows how to coach in the NCAA Tournament as well.
In fact, this senior class is the only one that hasn’t been to a Final Four under Izzo. Don’t think for a second he hasn’t reminded them of that.
But I’m not convinced they are title bound as you will soon see.
Cinderella: Harvard upset New Mexico last year and there is almost always a 12-5 upset. Cincinnati was one of the best teams in the country for a stretch in the middle of the season, but they weren’t as good at the end.
Providence was uncomfortably on the bubble until the Friars won the Big East Tournament, likely knocking Xavier into the First Four. The No. 11 Friars are hot and could knock off No. 6 North Carolina, which is as hard to figure out as one of Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s string theories.
Either of those teams could win a couple games or more.
Most Likely to be an upset: In addition to the aforementioned Providence-UNC matchup, and perhaps Harvard, I would put my money on St. Joseph’s to knock off UConn. Granted it’s only a 7-10 game, and either team is a procedural bump away from being an 8 or 9 so it’s not much of an upset. But it is the Atlantic 10 beating the American Athletic Conference and let’s face it. We were talking about St. Joseph’s as a bubble team and potential First Four participant. The Hawks were seeded 38th overall, UConn 26th.
Unheralded Player: James Bell makes No. 2 Villanova go. He can jump out of any gym and is fun to watch in transition. He has good size at 6-foot-6 and can play a wing or mix it up inside. Bell has solid range from 3-point land as well. Scoring nearly 15 points a game and grabbing 6 rebounds he will have the ball in his hands a lot, especially late in a close game as he is an 81% free throw shooter.
Elite Eight Teams: As I mentioned, I’m not drinking the Green and White Kool-Aid. Someone will beat Sparty before they get to the regional final. I just have that feeling. That said, I like Virginia to make it, even though I think they are not one of the four best teams in the country. The other Elite Eighter is a team I have yet to mention: Iowa State.
Kind of like the San Antonio Spurs, the Cyclones quietly go about their business without much fanfare, although winning the Big 12 title in Kansas’ backyard was impressive and certainly made other teams take notice. Conference player of the year Melvin Ejim scores a ton and he will need to because Iowa State is horrible at defense, like 272nd nationally horrible. Despite that, I like them to play the Cavaliers in the Garden.
Should be an interesting regional final.
They’ve been ranked as high as No. 3 in the country and have felt the pains of being unranked and unimpressive.
But now the Ohio State Buckeyes have a signature win and some momentum heading into the Big Ten Tournament.
Michigan State’s Gary Harris missed a jumper as time expired and OSU came from behind to beat the Spartans 69-67 at Value City Arena on Sunday.
Ohio State said goodbye to seniors Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr., and had a chance to say hello to the No. 4 seed and a much-coveted bye in the upcoming B1g money-maker, uh, tournament, but Wisconsin ruined that idea by choking against Nebraska Sunday night.
So Ohio State gets the No. 5 seed and a matchup against Purdue on Thursday. The winner gets Nebraska, which likely earned an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. That winner gets top-seeded Michigan.
LaQuinton Ross scored 22 points and had five rebounds while Craft had 12 points, 7 assists and became the conference’s all-time steals leader to help OSU overcome a pathetic 19-of-31 effort at the free throw line, which almost cost OSU in the final seconds.
Adreian Payne led all scorers with 23 points while Harris had 12 and Denzel Valentine 11.
The Buckeyes improve to 23-8 and 10-8 in the B1G. MSU, the No. 1 seed in the tourney, is also 22-8 and is 15-4 in the B1G.
It was one of those games where it felt like Sparty should have been blowing away the Buckeyes at times, but could only manage a 7-point lead as the game’s biggest spread.
More than once OSU was down at least five points but didn’t let that deter them from winning on Senior Day.
OSU trailed 38-36 at the half but began the second half with a 6-0 run, which ultimately sparked the Buckeyes to a 44-39 lead with about 17:30 left. Michigan State quickly answered and took a 49-44 lead with 16:56 left on a pair of Harris 3-pointers, a Payne dunk off a Harris assist and a Travis Trice dunk.
That led to an OSU timeout with 15:16 left.
Harris hit a pair of free throws to increase the lead to 51-44 and a cap a 12-0 run.
Craft hit a pair of free throws to end the run and make it 51-46 with about 14 minutes left.
Harris then hit a long catch-and-shoot bucket to increase the lead back to seven with about 13 minutes left.
But OSU wasn’t done despite having no real go-to scorer.
Amir Williams made one of two from the line and a Ross 3-pointer cut it to 53-50 after the under-12 timeout. Trice missed a shot, the Buckeyes rebounded and after a foul at the other end and Shannon Scott hit a pair of free throws to cut it to one.
That caused Coach Tom Izzo to bring his starters back in the game as he was resting Branden Dawson, Valentine and Keith Appling.
The Buckeyes play their last regular season game of the year today, taking on the Michigan State Spartans in Columbus. This is the second meeting between the two teams, the first having ended in a Spartan victory in overtime in East Lansing.
The game is scheduled for 4:30 PM Eastern Time on CBS. Don’t forget spring forward was last night, so change your clocks accordingly. We look forward to chatting with you through the game! Go Bucks!
If they can celebrate The Answer in Philly, we can celebrate Spring with this great musical tribute that includes his most notorious catchphrase…
Today’s my dad’s birthday. So, this is relevant (and may explain a few things):
For the second straight week we go all “in loco parentis” for SBP… here’s the soundtrack to match, from back in the day. Or as I call it, “The Day”.
“Michigan State is Ohio State’s new rival.” This theme began around 11:30pm Tuesday night.
To be fair, rumblings of this new theme began long before the Spartans defeated the Buckeyes in overtime at the Breslin Center, but they began to emerge heavily after the scarlet and gray’s 72-68 defeat.
I reject this thought immediately. Michigan State is NOT our new rival. Ohio State has one rival, and only one rival.
Tradition dictates that the Michigan Wolverines are the lone rival to my alma mater, and their misfortunes of late do not knock them from the ranks of rivalry. (By “misfortunes of late”, I mean their football team being a steaming heap of dung throughout the entire 21st century. Boom, roasted.)
Michigan State is atop the Big Ten, and they earned it by knocking the Buckeyes from the ranks of the unbeaten twice in five weeks. I can accept that they are the champions in football and the current leaders in basketball. They’re a damn good team in both sports, and while I am not happy about it, there’s no denying it.
But I cannot and will not allow history and tradition to be rewritten over an excellent stretch of athletic competition.
To me, a rivalry requires more than wins and losses on a stat sheet. It takes decades of hatred, frustration, glory, and respect. Michigan State will never evoke those emotions the way Michigan does.
The Spartans are our chief competitors for the title. They are our most difficult opponents. They are our toughest struggle. But they are NOT our rival.
So what’s the difference between MSU and UM?
There are several teams that want to claim us as their rival. That’s fine with me – they do it because beating us would make their season. We’re the kings. But just because Penn State or Indiana wants to declare us their rival doesn’t mean we should reciprocate. Let it go. Take the games seriously, but there simply is no massive rivalry aside from the maize and blue. You’ll never compare to our greatest rival.
If that’s not enough to convince you, perhaps a history lesson is in order.
Towards the end of the John Cooper era at Ohio State, there were similar rumblings coming from Ann Arbor. Michigan had handled us so many times recently, and their fans were losing the flavor for The Game. They were declaring Michigan State to be their biggest rival. Perhaps they were doing it to get under our skin, because that’s what Ohio State and Michigan does to one another – constant contempt and mockery.
It worked. It got under our skin. Michigan began to take us for granted, and after they knocked us off 38-26 in 2000, we’d had enough. We went and hired Jim Tressel. Since that day, the Wolverines have paid the price for disrespecting The Rivalry. They’ve only tasted victory twice in the 13 years since.
Buckeye fans, I urge you – do not declare MSU to be our new rival. They simply aren’t.
Keep your eyes on the ball. Those bastards to the north are our rivals, and they always will be.