Archive for March, 2016

Abrupt End to the Season

March 30, 2016

The Ohio State and Kentucky women saw their seasons come to an end in the Sweet 16, despite playing lower seeds. But at least I mentioned that the respective matchups were scary.

I don’t know how Washington could have finished fifth in the Pac-12. They came into Rupp Arena and shot the lights out, beating Kentucky 85-72. In the Lexington region, Stanford upset Notre Dame, setting up an all-Pac-12 final. The Huskies won that, giving them their first Final Four appearance, ever. Oregon State came out of another region after knocking off #1-seed Baylor, to also earn it’s first Final Four trip. Looking at teams around the country other than Connecticut, the Pac-12 seems to have been the toughest conference. Or, at least, they had teams who really came on in March.

Ohio State was beaten fairly handily by Tennessee in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. But the Volunteers lost the regional final to Syracuse who had upset #1-seed South Carolina. The Orange are another Final Four newcomer.

Speaking of Connecticut, I saw the other day where an eastern pundit said that Connecticut is “killing” women’s basketball. I don’t think that is accurate. I WILL say that the dominance of UConn makes the sport somewhat less interesting to me. But in a time when “success” and “achievement” are rapidly becoming dirty words to a lot of people, I’m not comfortable disparaging  Connecticut’s amazing accomplishments.

 

The Sweet Sixteen

March 25, 2016

The Kentucky and Ohio State women’s teams were both seeded third in their respective regions in the NCAA Tournament. So, both had first and second round games on their home floors.

Kentucky beat UNC-Asheville by 54 in the first round, then broke open a close game with Oklahoma to win by 21. It just so happens that the regionals are in Rupp Arena. So, the home stand continues. Tonight the Cats face 7th-seed Washington. The Huskies pulled off what I consider to be a big upset in knocking off #2 seed Maryland on their home floor.

Ohio State beat Buffalo by 19, then held on for an 88-81 win over West Virginia in a great game. The Bucks are in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota region and play Tennessee tonight. Tennessee, like Washington, is a scary matchup as the Vols are playing much better now than they did earlier in the year.

After winning the SEC Tournament with an overtime win over Texas A&M, the Kentucky men beat Stony Brook despite some lackluster play early. But then in a 4-5 matchup, the Cats fell to Indiana. Front-line play has been inconsistent all season, and it wasn’t good enough to beat the Hoosiers.

The Ohio State men had two home games in the NIT, but were lethargic on the court. It took overtime to beat Akron. Then the Bucks fell to Florida. With everyone coming back next year, it will be interesting to see if OSU can get back to competing for the Big Ten title.

 

Moving On To The Men’s Conference Tournaments

March 8, 2016

Since my last post, Ohio State picked up a nice win over Iowa. But this was followed by yet another big loss to Michigan State. So, the Buckeyes finished the regular season 19-12 and 11-7 in the Big Ten. OSU plays Penn State Thursday in the Big Ten tournament. It would be nice to see the Bucks pick up a 20th win. If they do, they would play Michigan State for the third time in 18 days.

Ohio State is clearly on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, assuming they don’t win the championship. As an OSU fan, we’re used to being on the bubble a lot. My theory is, especially in the case of a team as young as the Buckeyes, is that you’re actually better off going to the NIT, and giving the freshmen and sophomores some tournament experience. I look for OSU to be better next year as this team matures.

Since my last post, Kentucky lost at Vanderbilt (an easy place to lose), but then won a share (with Texas A&M) of the SEC regular season championship with wins over Florida and LSU. As the #2 seed, the Cats will play Friday night in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament.

Other than a brief spate of cold shooting by Tyler Ulis, Kentucky’s guard play has been excellent and will be a huge help to the Cats in the NCAA tournament. The front-line play has been a different matter. But Derek Willis is back from an injury, and Skal Labissiere has played much better of late. Alex Poythress has been inconsistent. But if everyone plays well, Kentucky is as good as anybody in the NCAA field.

Speaking of the NCAA tournament, it seems as wide open this year as it ever has been. Should be a lot of fun.

We are expecting temperatures in the mid-70s this week. Last year we had a foot of snow in March. Doesn’t seem likely so far this year!

Semifinal Slaughters

March 8, 2016

I had high hopes for the Kentucky and Ohio State women’s teams, as they entered conference tournament play last week.

The Wildcats completed the regular season on a 6-game win streak, with impressive wins over teams they had struggled with earlier in the year. As the #5 seed, UK had nice wins over LSU and Florida which sent them into the semifinals against South Carolina.

The Gamecocks ran the table in the regular season going 16-0. In fact, in SEC regular-season play over two years, Carolina only had one loss which was to UK last season. This year’s regular season wins over Kentucky were solid but not routs.

But in the tournament the Cats fell apart and ended up losing 93-63. South Carolina went on to win the tournament with a win over Mississippi State.

Since my last post, the Ohio State women had a heartbreaking end to their regular season. The Bucks lost at Minnesota by 2, then at Michigan State by 2 in triple overtime. Finishing the Big Ten schedule at 15-3 was a game behind Maryland at 16-2. Since entering the Big Ten, Maryland still hasn’t lost any conference games other than the two losses to Ohio State this year.

In the Big Ten tourney, OSU disposed of Rutgers before facing Michigan State again. This time it wasn’t close, as the Spartans prevailed 82-63. MSU met Maryland in the tournament championship game, but lost as the Terps won the title for the second straight year.

So, now it is on to the NCAA tournament, with pairings to be announced Monday night. Any team seeded fourth or higher will host first and second round games. Ohio State and Kentucky will probably qualify.