Blog Entry

East Regional preview: Ohio State looms large

Posted on: March 21, 2011 12:43 am
Edited on: March 21, 2011 1:57 am

Posted by Matt Norlander

Oh, we were so close to a 1-2-3-4 regional semifinal in Newark. But Marquette pulled out a win against Syracuse thanks, in part, to one of a handful of blown calls this weekend, and so we’ve got three sexy temptresses and an ugly stepsister. Hey, I love Buzz Williams and the Golden Eagles, but they’re clearly out of place in Newark. No game will get more run and buzz than Ohio State-Kentucky, and rightfully so. It’ll be the nation’s favorite for the national championship playing against the team with the nation’s most rabid fanbase. It’s a Final Four-worthy game, but mis-seeding leads us here. Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg will be the ones on the call for these games. The games will be played Friday and Sunday.

Three storylines dominating Newark

1. Ohio State has looked better than anyone else. Will it continue to bulldoze en route to a championship?
2. Will UNC continue to ascend thanks to the play of Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall?
3. North Carolina and Marquette playing in the tournament for the first time since the 1977 national championship.

How They Get to Houston

No. 1 Ohio State: The Buckeyes get out of this region if they stare ahead and keep on doing what they’ve been doing. Don’t deviate from your habits, and you’ll be just fine, Bucks. David Lighty’s incredible shooting has been a huge boost, but that’s just one of the pieces falling into place to get Ohio State its second national championship in school history. I like how many are now seeing what I’ve been saying since mid-January: Ohio State is a great basketball team. Parity abounds? To an extent, but the ‘Eyes rise above. It’s going to take a national championship for that to be nearly universally recognized, but Thad Matta’s team hasn’t done anything to prove me wrong so far.

No. 2 North Carolina: Get big play from Harrison Barnes and hope Kendall Marshall continues to dish out assists in the double-digits. It needs to force the tempo and hope it can out-run teams and kill them on the secondary break. I know, what else is new. John Henson needs to avoid goaltending, too. John Henson needs to avoid dumb plays, period. He’s too good and long to be giving teams chances late.

No. 4 Kentucky: If Brandon Knight continues to play like he wants to make the most money possible in the NBA, then Kentucky will stand a chance. Knight kept UK in the game against West Virginia when Joe Mazzulla was channeling Jerry West and putting Wildcats fans into cold sweats. When Knight’s on, Terrence Jones improves. The problem is, this team’s young — a trait John Calipari’s teams will forever embody — and so it needs to grow up fast. Calipari’s a great coach, but his teams can act dumb on the regular, holding them from their potential. That can’t happen if UK wants to get by Ohio State/North Carolina.

No. 11 Marquette: Get a lot of luck and prevent all the above teams from running. Marquette doesn’t know how to win pretty, and it loses close as often as it wins. In fact, if you look around at the other regions, you could make the argument that no team faces a tougher road to reach Houston than this one, a Big East member.

Newark's five best players

1. Jared Sullinger: No way a Naismith finalist isn’t making the top of this list. The other three guys who join him — Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker, Nolan Smith — populate other regions. No need to toss out stats or further emphasize the big man’s ability and impact. You know he’s that good, so let’s move on.
2. Brandon Knight: Knight’s not as flashy as John Wall was last year, but he’s better for this team
3. Kendall Marshall: Marshall is an incredible point guard. He’s got great vision and ability to put the ball wherever he wants on the floor. If he had more athleticism, it’d be scary, and he’d be above Knight. Without Marshal, UNC’s not in the Sweet 16. That simple.
4. Harrison Barnes: Barnes’ natural talent and increased aggressiveness are too much to keep him off this list. But if UNC’s to move on, Barnes will need to have a couple of signature games next weekend.
5. David Lighty: Kentucky fans may complain Terrence Jones doesn’t crack the top five, but even they can’t deny his disappearing acts that have plagued his play for the better part of the past two months. Lighty is a critical player for Ohio State. Think Ricky Moore when Connecticut won it in 1999. Lighty’s that, and more, as he’s a sneaky sniper on the offense end.

The Ohio State Buckeyes will cut down the nets (if they choose to do so; sometimes favored teams don’t want to engage in this act until the first Monday in April) because they’re the most complete and talented team. As I stated above, they’ve done nothing to sway me from shifting my seat on the bandwagon, let alone leaping off. Maybe the veteran play of Lighty, Diebler and Buford proves most vital in these two games.

Photo: AP
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Category: NCAAB
Tags: East, East Region

Since: Jan 23, 2010
Posted on: March 25, 2011 11:04 am

East Regional preview: Ohio State looms large

I don't think OSU can take it all. They have to get by UK and then UNC just to get to KU. Are you kidding me, UK, NC and KU have played some of the hardest schedules across the board! OSU hasn't played as tough of a schedule as the above three. One of the three will win it all before OSU and don't forget about UConn they seem to pull the rabbit out of their hat in close games.

Since: Jan 23, 2010
Posted on: March 25, 2011 10:58 am

East Regional preview: Ohio State looms large

I think your comment about Cal being to arrogant to slow down is off base. Take a look at the two Flordia games in nine days they did just that, look at the WVU game and the last 7 min, they did just that. The key to this game is who can stay out of foul trouble. The first team to put one of their stars on the bench with two fouls in the first half or three early in the second will lose the game due to both benches being short. I believe the winner of this game gets Conn and then KS.

Since: Nov 3, 2007
Posted on: March 25, 2011 10:35 am

East Regional preview: Ohio State looms large

I wish CBS had more analyst that know the college game and rules.  To say that Marquette won because of 2 bad calls is just obvious one sided and biased reporting.

Well Old Timer, this same guy thinks John Henson is a potential liability for Carolina exposing the probability that the Washington game was his only glimpes of UNC all year.  First if Henson had caught the ball, which he just missed it, it'd been no big deal, the clock would've ran out.  UNC has it's problem areas but Henson's not one of them. 

Since: Mar 25, 2011
Posted on: March 25, 2011 8:34 am

East Regional preview: Ohio State looms large

The fact you think OSU got "whipped" by Wisconsin shows how little you know. We lost to them by 4 in Madison where nobody wins, and then demolished them by 28 in Columbus. Same with Purdue. Killed them at home and they beat us at their place which is another one of the toughest places in the nation to play. How was UK's away record this year? OSU is just as talented and athletic as Kentucky. The only difference is, we have experience. We love when teams try to run on us. It's slowing it down and eating shot clock that the BUckeye's struggle with, but coach Cal will be too arrogant to try that. Don't be surprised when your freshmen Cats start to make mistakes after getting down ealry.

Since: Nov 5, 2008
Posted on: March 25, 2011 6:43 am

East Regional preview: Ohio State looms large

You mean UK is a year away, if not this year. You do understand UK has by far the best recruiting class int the country next season (AGAIN) so dont get to cocky. UK is back, which means you guys get to play second fiddle, as usual!

Since: Nov 5, 2008
Posted on: March 25, 2011 6:41 am

East Regional preview: Ohio State looms large

I love it! Gary Parish shows his true bias and ignorance, as he usually does, with his pick last night! Gary the expert went 0 for 4 and looking at his conservative, uneducated pick for tonight he may be 0 for 8. As for Ohio St, they play in the Big 10, that says it all, and not to mention they were whipped by Purdue and Wisconsin, 2 teams that have been put out of the tourney by very low seeds. The most athletic and talented teams will win these games, Why Duke lost for example. Ohio St is playing the most athletic and talented team in the country and dont be surprised if Oh st doesnt get ran out of the gym. They will not be able to get the 3's up easily with UK's superior athletes guarding them and Sullinger is WAY overrated, AZ has a bigman that is levels better than the overweight Sullinger. I can not wait. This will as surprising to the experts as the AZ-Duke game. UK isnt getting the credit they deserve because the Freshmen team lost some close games early because simply they are freshmen. When they are on the same page and play to their ability they can not be beat. Just ask Florida, they 2nd most talented team in the tourney.

Since: Mar 8, 2011
Posted on: March 24, 2011 10:13 pm

East Regional preview: Ohio State looms large

Wow! I can't believe people think the backcourt violation gave Marquette the game.  Remember, at that point the game was tied and Syracuse still had about 20 seconds on the clock when DJO hit the 3 to put MU ahead. So, they had ample time to tie the game or possibly win.  Also, "blown" calls have a tendency to balance out during 40 minutes.  Let us not forget that Fab Melo should have been given a technical when he slammed the ball after MU scored in the first half (that would have been 2 shots and the ball for Marquette).  Also, Crowder and Otule were both tackled and no whistles were blown.  Both sides can complain about blown calls or we can just accept the fact that MU both deserved and earned the victory 100%.

Since: Mar 12, 2011
Posted on: March 24, 2011 3:51 pm

East Regional preview: Ohio State looms large

UNC will be there, but unfortunately Kentucky will not, It will be UNC vs OSU with OSU advancing this time. The Heels are a year away from winning the NC. OSU will be cutting down the nets this year.

Since: Nov 21, 2010
Posted on: March 24, 2011 2:56 pm

East Regional preview: Ohio State looms large

Marquette-Kentucky is the most frequent match-up in NCAA tournament History.  They have met 10 times, including 2 consolation games.  Marquette holds a 6-4 edge against the team with the most wins in NCAA tournament History. 

Since: Mar 24, 2011
Posted on: March 24, 2011 10:40 am

East Regional preview: Ohio State looms large

@frappe7601 - I saw almost all of Marquette's 14 losses on TV (ESPN/*) and almost all of them were barnburners.  This team plays very tough basketball and they don't give up.

JUCO's cut both ways, they can give you instant offensive punch, but often it is a team that has started together and developed together that plays the best defense.  MU has been clearly out of sync on defense for much of the year and it has led to several single digit losses. The last couple of weeks seems to have shown that the D has started to gel.

This game should be close.

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