Hoops Week in Review
By John Porentas
This week's Hoops Week in Review is dedicated to Ron Lewis and his re-found desire to drive to the basket. It's the difference between losing in the Sweet 16 and going all the way.
Recapping the Buckeyes' Week
The Buckeyes met the Wolverines in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. Ohio State successfully teased Amaker and company for thirty-some minutes before eventually winning 72-62. Expectedly, Dion Harris went 1-13 from the field and Courtney Sims went 2-9 from the field.
Purdue hung around for a bit, but they eventually succumbed to the Greg Oden Show. The Buckeyes won 63-52.
The Buckeyes blasted Wisconsin 66-49. They got out to an early lead and never looked back. Ohio State was the better team at every position. Big Ten Player of the Year Alando Tucker went 4-13 from the field and scored 10 points. The 10 points that Big Ten Player of the Year Alando Tucker scored was a season low. (As an aside, Big Ten Player of the Year Alando Tucker scored 12 points in a very losing effort in Columbus late last month.)
Buckeye of the Week
Gregory Oden. He may not have been the Big Ten Player of the Year, but Greg Oden again proved that he was by far the most dominating player in the conference. In three games in three days, Oden averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks per game. He only played 22 minutes against Wisconsin due to foul trouble, but still managed a double-double and four blocks. If this is indeed his last go-round in college basketball, don't expect him to go out quietly.
I don't want to keep harping on it, but Ron Lewis' newly re-found desire to go to the basket may be the biggest single reason that this team makes it to the Final Four. Don't scoff (yet). No matter how dominating Oden is down low and Conley is up top, too many possessions were wasted during the season when Ron Lewis was solely a shooter. Now that he's breaking the 19'9" plane again, he has added a new dimension to a team that had some pretty decent dimensions to begin with. I just hope Lewis realizes that the good he has done lately comes from driving. His three-point shooting is even improving. Make no mistake, there is no chicken/egg confusion here. He is shooting well because he is driving again, not vice versa. Here's hoping he keeps that in mind.
When I first saw the NCAA Tournament brackets released on CBS, I'll admit that I was pretty mad at Florida getting the #1 overall seed. Then I was even madder when North Carolina got the #2 overall seed. Then, of course, I was hoping to see the Buckeyes get the #4 overall seed in order to make the shoulder-chip even larger. That didn't happen, so I was even angrier. (It must've been a bad day for me overall, because I'm usually pretty easy going.) Anyway, all of my anger went away when I saw our bracket. I think we may be looking at the easiest bracket, aside from possibly having to play Texas A&M in San Antonio in the Elite Eight.
Big Ten Week in Review
Ohio State 3-0 last week. Wins over Michigan (72-62), Purdue (63-52) and Wisconsin (66-49). 30-3 overall.
Wisconsin 2-1 last week. Wins over Michigan State (70-57) and Illinois (53-41) and a loss to Ohio State (66-49). 29-5 overall.
Indiana 1-1 last week. A win over Penn State (94-63) and a loss to Illinois (58-54). 20-10 overall.
Illinois 2-1 last week. Wins over Penn State (66-60) and Indiana (58-54) and a loss to Wisconsin (53-41). 23-11 overall.
Purdue 1-1 last week. A win over Iowa (74-55) and a loss to Ohio State (63-52). 21-11 overall.
Iowa 0-1 last week. A loss to Purdue (74-55). 17-14 overall.
Michigan State 1-1 last week. A win over Northwestern (62-57) and a loss to Wisconsin (70-57). 22-11 overall.
Michigan 1-1 last week. A win over Minnesota (49-40) and a loss to Ohio State (72-62). 21-12 overall.
Minnesota 0-1 last week. A loss to Michigan (49-40). 9-22 overall.
Northwestern 0-1 last week. A loss to Michigan State (62-57). 13-18 overall.
Penn State 0-1 last week. A loss to Illinois (66-60). 11-19 overall.
Big Ten Notes
Spring is in the air, and Michigan is in the NIT. Tommy Clockwork has gotten his team into the postseason again. I know a lot of Michigan "fans" are probably upset with their lack of involvement with the NCAA Tournament, but since the NCAA purchased the NIT Tournament, aren't we really just nitpicking now? Heck, in five years, who's even going to remember which tournament you were in?
I'm still not sure what Illinois did to warrant inclusion into the Tournament. They only won three games on the road in conference, and those were against Minnesota, Northwestern and Penn State--the bottom three teams in the Big Ten.
Game of the Week
Wake Forest 114 - Georgia Tech 112 (2 OT). Terrible defense, let me introduce you to tremendous shooting. Wake Forest shot 64.2% from the field in this game, including 16-23 from three (70%). Georgia Tech shot 55.6% from the field, and hit 9-17 from three. Yellow Jacket point guard Jarvaris Crittenton could've won the game in regulation, but missed a free throw. They went to overtime tied at 82, and then Deacon guard Harvey Hale took over. He made five three-pointers and scored 21 points in the two overtime sessions. His final three gave Wake Forest the lead for good at 114-111 with 26.5 seconds remaining.
Team of the Week
Miami (Ohio). At 10-6, the Redhawks finished with the fourth-best conference record in the MAC. Their first opponent was Ohio University, who had a 9-7 conference record. They beat the Bobcats 70-51. Their next opponent was Toledo. The Rockets had a conference record or 14-2. Miami beat them 58-53. In the MAC Championship game, Miami faced an Akron team that was 13-3 in the conference. The Redhawks won 53-52 on a banked three with 0.6 seconds left to play. They enter the NCAA Tournament as a 14-seed, but being the underdog isn't anything new to them.
Player of the Week
North Carolina State forward Brandon Costner. North Carolina State went into the ACC Tournament with a 15-14 record. Four games later, they were just a few possessions away from a conference championship. Brandon Costner was the main reason. Playing 38 minutes per game in those four games, Costner averaged 22.5 points and five rebounds. In the championship game against North Carolina, he scored 28 points but wasn't able to convert down the stretch, as the Tar Heels eventually won 89-80. It was an impressive effort, but one that probably ran about five minutes too long.
Some Things Without a Category
While watching the California - UCLA game last week, for a period of about seven minutes, there was no score on the screen. Talk about distracting! It was almost like I couldn't concentrate on the game if I didn't know the score every second. It was like watching soccer from Europe, because I had no emotional connection. If I don't know the score, I lose interest. I think it's the same reason that I can't listen to basketball on the radio. I need to actually see the score more than having it told to me. It's weird, I know.
Did you know that Florida never trailed in the SEC Tournament? And did you also know that while the tournament selection committee looked at the season as a whole, they only apparently looked at Florida's wins. Did you also know that because the committee "thinks" Florida is the best team in the country, they get the easiest road. And you may not have known this, but the committee rendered the regular season even more meaningless than it already was by declaring that the Gator emperor definitely had clothes on and the clothes were "OMG!! Awesome!!". Florida erased the memory of three double-digit losses in the span of eleven days by having four double-digit wins in the span of eight days. I guess that makes sense. Four is more than three. Even in the SEC.
Anybody else upset about Bob Huggins and Kansas State missing the tournament? Me neither. It's too bad that former-nearly-high school senior Bill Walker got injured a couple of months ago. He probably could've helped this team get to the Tournament. Fortunately for Huggy, his teams will get better. There are plenty of legal guardians that happen to be attached to highly-rated high school basketball players that he would be happy to add to his staff. Hey, do you have a McDonald's All-American living with you? If you do, you can become Kansas State's Director of Basketball Operations!
Lastly, as I mentioned last year, nobody wants to hear about your brackets. As much as you love talking about them, how much do you love hearing about others' brackets? You hate it, don't you? Well, to other people, your bracket is "others' brackets". Nobody cares if you "have a feeling about Creighton", or think "New Mexico State is going to get it done." Just remember, when somebody's talking to you about their bracket and you're saying in your head "shut up, shut up, shut up...I want to talk about my bracket!", they're thinking the exact same thing when you're talking. That being said, I've got Davidson in the Sweet 16.
The Buckeyes are Big Ten Tournament Champions...Michigan can take solace in the fact that they won't have to face anymore conference champions in the NIT...Ron Lewis is the key to a championship run...Greg Oden is the key to a championship win...You can't spell "Tommy Amaker, you ruined Michigan's basketball program and all Buckeye fans thank you" without "NIT"...You think they'd be interested in hiring Steve Alford?...Miami (Ohio) can make the Tournament, but Michigan can't...Or won't...I need numbers to hold my attention...I'm like Michigan's Athletic Director...I don't necessarily need good numbers, I just need numbers..."Oh twelve losses!! That's good, right?"..."Hey, a mirror! That guy looks just like me!!"..."I smell lemons!"...Florida's awesomeness is only surpassed by Joakim Noah's ability to gyrate like a pirate that just got struck by lightning...Hey, are you a legal guardian? Illegal guardian? Gardener? Can you guarantee Kansas State an All-American high school basketball player? If so, Kansas' seventh-highest ranked state university would like to offer you a job in the athletic department!...And finally, when filling out your brackets, remember that women who select teams based on mascots win 64% of all of the office pools in the United States...It's science.
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