I hope everyone had a great Christmas and survived it safely! Did you get what you wanted? I decided since this is the last week of 2012, why not do a “best of and worst of” to recap all the things that caught our eye or made us angry this past year. Let’s rumble!
The Gator Bowl- The year started out with the Buckeyes in the Gator Bowl taking on the Florida Gators. The outcome and subsequent bowl ban clearly make this one of our “worst of” for the year. The catch to it that makes me crazy is listening to everyone now talk about it like they knew that the bowl ban was coming. From Gordon Gee to Gene Smith and down the line to all of us, everyone thought they would be getting probation and reduced scholarships for “Tattoo-gate”. The revisionists out there like to destroy Smith for not taking a self-imposed one year ban. There are plenty of reasons to not like Gene Smith, the bowl ban isn’t one of them.
Beating Syracuse- Everyone knows Jim Boeheim is a cranky old fart. One of the “best of” moments of 2012 was watching the Buckeyes take apart his Syracuse Orangemen to earn a berth in the Final Four. Watching him grimace and complain, knowing he was outmatched and on his way out of the tournament was a beautiful sight!
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Another team fell from the ranks of the unbeaten on Monday night when Syracuse traveled to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers and came out on the losing end of a 74-66 final. The first half played out rather unexpectedly, as Pitt opened the game with a 19-0 run before Syracuse finally got their first basket, a three-pointer by Scoop Jardine, at the 12:00 mark. If that wasn’t odd enough, Syracuse then went on to score an additional 14 unanswered points to bring the score to 19-17, and kept it close in reaching halftime only down by four. The second half was a much more back-and-forth affair, although Pitt generally controlled the game throughout on their way to the big victory. The win will move Pitt up to the #3 spot in the country, assuming Ohio State and Kansas both remain unbeaten this week and the Panthers handle DePaul on Saturday. Syracuse likely won’t drop too far despite the loss.
Both Syracuse and Pitt are solid teams who are rightfully positioned among the top 10 in the country. Pitt has really had Syracuse’s number in recent years, and once again got to play the role of spoiler in ending the Orange’s undefeated run. Coming into the game Pitt had the more impressive victories on the season, with wins over Texas, Connecticut, and Georgetown, among other quality opponents. Syracuse’s most significant win had come against Notre Dame on New Year’s Day, and their only away games (discounting games at neutral locations) prior to visiting Pittsburgh had come against Seton Hall and St. John’s. One could take the perspective that the Orange had not truly been tested yet, especially in light of Michigan State’s continued troubles after Syracuse defeated them in early December in an at-that-time “key matchup.”