Buckeye Basketball is back on the map when tournament action gets underway in the East region today. The best two weeks in sports are upon us, as I wrap up my daily email responses, and jump out of my day job and onto the couch. I know you’re doing the same thing, and if not… You can always quit your day job.
Seriously, it’s an option I’d consider.
Okay, enough promoting of living the poor life. You don’t have to worry about round one, because our Buckeyes won’t take the court until somewhere around 10 eastern time (yes, even Mali will get to watch live!). The last round of games tonight features UNLV/Colorado, Kansas/Detroit, Iowa St/UCONN, MSU/Long Island, and Ohio State/Loyola.
It look’s like we’ve got one heck of a ballgame on our hands. Here is a preview of tonight’s match-up in Pittsburgh between the Buckeyes and Greyhounds!
The Buckeyes get their March Madness on tonight, as a top seed in the Big dance might just “boil down” to tonight’s key match-up with Purdue at 9 PM ET on Big Ten Network. Paul Keels and Ron Stokes will have the call on the Ohio State Radio Network, as well as online.
What’s in store for tonight on the hardwood?
For the Buckeyes, it’s a tournament championship or bust. Just ask William Buford who has been to three straight championship games. His 14 points per game in Big Ten tournament games is a true testament of what he’s meant to the Buckeyes in post season play. Thad Matta’s club has six straight wins in the precursor to the pantheon of college basketball. Without a doubt, this team has been through it’s challenges past few years. Of course there is the overtime thriller last year against Northwestern in the tournament quarterfinals. How about the sword in the heart that Evan Turner turned in against the rival house, as the last breath of hope for a tournament championship waited in the wings.
For every success story though is a setback.
One miscue, and it’s over. You don’t have time to lose focus. All that matters is what’s ahead of you. March Madness and tournament play is like a pit fight to the death. It doesn’t matter if you’re more athletic, stronger, or have more speed. In a split second, anyone can take your legs from under you.
And follow it up with a dagger that takes your life.
Game Number two of the season series between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Illinois Fighting Ilini rolls on tomorrow night on ESPN/ESPN3 at 7 PM ET. The Buckeyes look to put two losses in their last three games behind them.
Meanwhile, the struggling Illini look to a repeat performance from Brandon Paul the last time these two teams met. After a in depth look at Bruce Weber’s fighting Illini earlier in the year, It’s time to get you updated on what’s happening lately.
It’s Ugly in Urbana:
For Buckeye fans squirming in their seats the last few weeks, remember that at this point of the year, Illinois fans have become accustomed to long, drawn out losing streaks at the end of the season.
Head coach Bruce Weber is yet again on the hot seat, after his squad has lost 8 of the last nine ballgames since beating Ohio State in heroic fashion earlier this season. Their only win was a one point squeaker against Michigan State. Since that point, the Spartans have shot to the top of the conference standings, while the Orange and Blue are competing with Penn State and Nebraska for last place in the conference.
Of course, by definition, you’re not really fighting for it when you lose to Nebraska by 23. A continuing sign that the wheels are falling off in Urbana. In Lincoln, the Illini were statistically out of competition with 9:30 to go in the ballgame.
For most fans, all that matters is beating Michigan on the gridiron. These days, things have changed as Michigan has actually been able to become a true challenge the past few seasons. Of course, it took recruiting out of state to get to the top, but the Wolverines have arrived.
Now the only question is can they beat the best.
School: University of Michigan
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Student Population: 41,674
School Type: Public
Conference: Big Ten Conference
Head Coach: Jon Beilein
The Indiana Hoosiers roll into town today, fresh off their first loss of the season at home against the Minnesota. Tip-Off this afternoon is set for 4:30 PM ET on CBS. We’ll have your liveblog as always during the game! To take a deeper look at Indiana, view our first game preview here.
It seems like just yesterday that Aaron Craft coughed up the basketball late, Sam Thompson mishandled a bounce pass on the baseline, and William Buford decided to attempt a running three down two late with plenty of time on the clock in the 4 point loss to the Hoosiers in the first meeting of these squads.
This time though, we see a team at the Schott that struggled on the road against Penn State. Then followed it up with a loss at Assembly Hall to a Minnesota team without it’s best player. Still, the Gophers are a gritty team that are coached well and do the little things right (I think I hit every cliche possible).
The Hoosiers continued pushing the basketball with their top notch transition offense, but it was their defense that broke down throughout the first and late in the second. Ryan Corazza breaks down the defensive faults of the Hoosiers in the latest Film Study over at Inside the Hall. If you watched, the first thing you’d pick up from this one was the lack of communication on that end of the floor. Guys were out of position, forgetting their assignment in the zone, and letting the Gophers get to the baseline.
So far in Big Ten play, Indiana is allowing more than 1 point per possession, which is not going to get the job done if they want to remain at the top of the conference. Their biggest issue though could be the lack of ability to get the glass, box out and grab a tough rebound. Currently, the Hoosiers are grabbing 35 boards per game.
Minnesota was able to turn the tide defensively, both inside and on the perimeter. Jordan Hulls was kept to just one three pointer and the team shot 22% from beyond the arc last time out.
For Hoosier fans that have been patiently waiting for the resurgence of one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country, the 2011-12 season has finally been something to brag about.
Head Coach Tom Crean looks like he has finally dug himself out of the hole of Kelvin Sampson’s mistakes. Upcoming in 2012 is arguably the best class in the nation and the most talented in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers return talented play-makers Verdell Jones III, Christian Watford and Victor Oladipo. Add Cody Zeller to the mix, one of the best incoming big men in the country, and it becomes clear why this team has been so competitive.
We had an idea in the pre-season that this team would be good. But knock down Kentucky type of excellence?
The Buckeyes head into Bloomington on the heels of a major win over Northwestern. The Hoosiers will play with a bit of a chip after suffering their first loss of the season to the Michigan State Spartans on Tuesday.
Overall, It looks like we have a great game on Saturday to end the 2011 year.
|Head Coach:||Tom Crean|
Sometimes you just have to submit to the fact that Nerds got it going on. Despite losing to it’s only two ranked opponents in non-conference play, the Wildcats enter the Big Ten season at a sizzling 10-2. In the pre-season, we took a closer look at the Wildcats with the belief that they could contend in the Big Ten just one year after arguably their best season in the last decade.
Hope and aspiration turns into reality tomorrow night, as the Wildcats meet the Ohio State Buckeyes to open up B1G play in Columbus.
|Head Coach:||Bill Carmody|
The Ohio State Buckeyes continue their battle with flying mascots and with non-conference play on Thursday against those RedHawks of Miami…of Ohio. It’s been an up and down year for this MAC squad. They’ve beat some very tough competition including in state opponent Dayton and a top notch Belmont team.
But fresh off a 77-75 loss to Evansville on Tuesday, that saw the Aces put together a 16-2 run to start the 4th and a 7-0 run to cap the game — there is a lot to prove and improve on for head coach Charlie Coles’ squad.
|Head Coach:||Charlie Coles|