Scare Will Return Focus

It's said most teams that advance to the Final Four need a scare or two along the way to ensure they stay focused on the prize. For the Buckeyes, Saturday's 78-71 overtime victory against Xavier will do that and more. In fact this could be the main ingredient to winning the National Championship in this possible dream season.

Make no mistake, Buckeye fans didn't want to witness the fall of their team to an A-10 opponent let alone one whose fans disrespected head coach Thad Matta with boos over the course of the two days.  But while some in the media will look to dismantle the Buckeyes chances of advancing to the Final Four after such a performance, those who've followed the team know this was not the same Buckeye team who captured the Big Ten regular and post-season titles.


Getting three points from the bench play of Cook, Lighty, Terwilliger and Hunter and zero points from starter Ivan Harris could have proved to be the difference if not for the great performances of Ron Lewis and Mike Conley Jr. as both scored well over their season average.  The fact Greg Oden fouled out for the first time this season just proves the refs were looking hard at the inside play.  But while some may ask how strong the Big Ten really was as all but the Buckeyes have bowed out, this is still a team with great depth and the ability to take their game to another level on both ends of the court.




One look back at last years Final Four teams will show similar paths taken by LSU, UCLA, George Mason and champion Florida.  While the Gators found their toughest game come against Georgetown in the third round the others all encountered some sort of panic at one time or another.


George Mason enjoyed not having pressure placed on them and gave everything they had against UConn in a wild thriller while  LSU saw their scare come in the second-round against Texas A&M before winning by 1 point.  UCLA who would advance to play the Gators saw a close 3-point victory over Alabama in the second round and a 2-point victory over Gonzaga in the third round before beating Memphis by 5 to advance.


So while members of the media will be talking about the Buckeyes close victory and dismissing them, Coach Matta will have his team refocused and ready to take on Tennessee next week one step closer to making the Final Four and playing for the National Championship.




With Tennessee standing in the way of the Buckeyes advancing to play the winner of Texas A&M and Memphis, things look good for the Big Ten Champion to punch their ticket for the Final Four by the end of next weekend. 


While Bruce Pearl and others will talk about the close game Tennessee gave the Buckeyes in January, they better keep in mind the Buckeyes were just coming off a tough road loss to Wisconsin.


Since that loss the Buckeyes have won nineteen contests in a row and learned to win games during crunch time in the process. 


Just as in their first match-up Tennessee will have to find someone to match-up with Greg Oden while the Buckeyes will need to find a way to shutdown Chris Lofton and handle the fullcourt pressure Tennessee is sure to use.


Once past Tennessee the Buckeyes will take on Memphis or Texas A&M.  Memphis has been cruising with wins over North Texas and Nevada while A&M had a tuff hard fought battle against Louisville after beating Penn in the first round.  While both teams are well tested both would enter with question marks against the Buckeyes with OSU being favored in either match-up.


So let your nails grow, take your heart medicine and clear your schedule as you prepare this week to watch the Buckeyes punch their ticket for Atlanta and the end to a dream season and a National Championship.

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