Big Ten Wonk
Sunday, April 01, 2007
All other D-I schools can just withdraw from every sport
In lacrosse, tennis, field hockey, baseball, and volleyball, we'll just cut to the chase from now on and have Ohio State play Florida for the championship right at the start.

(1) Ohio State 67, (2) Georgetown 60
Forget Greg Oden, never mind Mike Conley, look past Ron Lewis, and even ignore recent Packer fixation David Lighty. The player of the game for Ohio State was Ivan Harris. Yes, Ivan Harris. You see, Harris had five offensive boards and only one turnover in 15 minutes. And his performance was emblematic: the Buckeyes won this game, even though they didn't shoot as well as Georgetown, simply because they got more shots.

On Friday I noted that the Hoyas aren't a good defensive rebounding team. That hurt them last night, as Ohio State (normally not a good offensive rebounding team) pulled down 16 misses out of 37 chances. That's the kind of performance Georgetown usually turns in on the offensive glass but last night the Hoyas were meanwhile being limited to getting just 30 percent of their own misses. (Yes, Roy Hibbert playing just 24 minutes helped that number.)

Nor did turnovers help matters, of course, for Georgetown: John Thompson III's team gave the ball away 14 times in a 59-possession game. That's bad, sure, but keep in mind it's almost exactly as bad as the Hoyas performed all season long in Big East play (where they donated the ball to opponents on 24 percent of their possessions) while still putting up arguably the best offensive numbers in the country. And they shot about as well last night as they did in-conference. The key difference: fewer offensive rebounds.

(Note that Ohio State committed only eight turnovers. For the tournament Thad Matta's team has given the ball away on just 14 percent of their possessions.)

My Friday forecast that the Buckeyes would play zone was half-right. OSU played a 2-3 off made baskets on their end throughout the first half but went exclusively man after Georgetown ripped off 11 points before the first media timeout after halftime. (So there's no readily available explanation for the odd silence of Jeff Green, who scored nine points on just five shots. Green faced a zone for much of the game so there's no single defender to credit.)

As for the big guys, Hibbert lived up to the hype, even with foul trouble, scoring 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting in just 24 minutes. Oden missed a 20-minute dub-dub by a hair, recording 13 points and nine boards. If he'd just secured that 10th rebound, maybe he would have been adjudged by a certain analyst as having the potential to be another Russell or Walton. Alas.

(Box score.)

(1) Florida 76, (2) UCLA 66
I thought the Bruins' defense would be good enough to win this game for UCLA and for the first five minutes I was right. (Let's see the glass as one-eighth full!) Then the threes started falling for the Gators (first from Corey Brewer, he of the game-high 19 points, and then from Lee Humphrey) and the Bruins did something I would never have expected from a Ben Howland team. They seemed to just lose hope. The foul trouble for Arron Afflalo seemed to be more damaging morale-wise than anything else. The Bruins, after all, trailed by just six after a first half where Afflalo didn't score. So instead of being good enough to win, the UCLA defense was the reason they lost.

Not that Florida didn't have something to do with that, mind you. For this year's tournament run, the Gators have apparently decided to model themselves on a Pittsnogle-Gansey-era West Virginia offense. They're shooting a ton of threes in the tournament and it's not so much that they're lighting it up from the outside (they've hit 39 percent of their threes in the tournament
very good but not unconscious by any means) as that all those threes, even misses, are opening things up on the inside, where Florida's connecting on 65 percent of their twos over five tournament games.

That kind of lethal efficiency on the interior should pose a formidable challenge Monday night for one Greg Oden.

BONUS notes for posterity! This game was nowhere near as close as its score. Florida missed 12 free throws, UCLA had only three turnovers, the Gators had 17, etc.


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