Say it three times …. There is no SI cover jinx. (image: Sports Illustrated)
March Madness is upon us once again. Hard to believe that basketball season and the first part of the year can blast by you so fast. Seems like just a little while ago I was wondering if Turner would even be back this season after the nasty fall, then I blinked once and I am watching them win the Big Ten tournament. Turned out to be much better of a season (and team) than I originally thought it was going to be. Even though I still have my doubts about the iron-man-six-man rotation in the tournament with Turner playing at the level he is – I mean following up the 37ft game winning bomb with back to back 30 pt games? Unbelievable. With Lighty, Diebler and Buford holding their own much of the front court liabilities can be compensated for. Not to say that this team hasn’t been tested – as shown by the tight games last weekend – when it took a heroic dagger from the Villain to get by TSUN and double OT to take out the Illini. The bottom line is that throughout the course of the season when tested they have found a way to win. A regular season and Big Ten tournament championship and #2 seed in the big dance. Damn.
Another special mention to Turner. Talk about doing work this year. Starting out the season with two triple doubles, and ending it with a last second game winner and two 30pt outings in the conference tournament. There can be no question about who the Player of the Year is – seriously. The guy leads the team in about everything and pretty much everything you read/hear about him off the court – such as this and this – seem to be nothing but stuff that after school specials are made of. Gotta love the fact that he is basically an all around great guy in addition to being all world in hoops – not to mention a Buckeye.
So the team starts out this Friday against the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos – who we basically own in almost every category. The game is in Milwaukee so at least it stands to reason that there may be a fair amount of fans that can make the trip from Cbus. I am sure that the Gauchos are a decent team since they are in the tournament but I fully anticipate Thad and the boys to advance. How much farther they go with a thin frontcourt depends on how well the other four play more so than how much Lauderdale and Madsen contribute, I am sure that some team will just crash the boards and try to beat us like Siena did last year but considering Turner is our leading rebounder this year that may not work as well. We may be a team of four guards and a center but those four guards are all 6’5” and up – so our length will cause problems for teams. The tournament is a grind so the lack of bench participation (or use whatsoever) I keep thinking will be a factor eventually. Regardless – Friday can’t get here fast enough.
The Lady Bucks are also a #2 seed after taking the conference regular season and tourney crown as well. During the season they were once again quite dominant for the most part, however the in the championship game of the tournament against Iowa – Prahalis got in early foul trouble and did not play well, which meant even though Jantel Lavender poured in 30+ pts in a career game the team still had to battle back from 16 down to win and it took free throws from Lavender with 1.6 left to do it. Sure – it was a conference championship game and it was going to be close, but it is the 16 point deficit that can’t become a habit in the tournament. After all – Foster has had some great teams over the past seven seasons and made it to the tournament each time – only to flame out early. We’ll find out if they can continue the level of play on Sunday when they take on St. Francis in Pittsburgh. The tough thing about this game is that St. Francis is from Pennsylvania – so this is even more of a home game for them than it is the Buckeyes. Throw in the fact that they are a #15 seed taking on a #2 seed and you have the makings of some serious emotion. Hopefully Sammy P and Jantel can come out and set the tone so as to take the wind out of their sails early and put them away.
Even though I am a diehard football fan I have to say that starting tomorrow is the most exciting three consecutive days in sports. So many teams, games and so much drama that grips the entire country makes for something that completely lives up to its’ name of March Madness.
Also – it should be noted – with the women and men both winning the outright Big Ten Championship that the domination over the conference has continued. Ohio State Big Ten Championships in 2009-10: Men’s Soccer, Men’s Swimming and Diving, Football, Women’s Basketball and Men’s Basketball. That is what I am talking about – Go Bucks!