Ohio State vs. North Carolina: The Game I Missed Clemson vs. Minnesota For
Wow. Yep, it’s official–Ohio State is better than I thought. Watching last night’s North Carolina-Ohio State game gave me an eerily similar feeling to watching the Michigan State-Gonzaga game that occurred around the start of last season. It seemed like every time down the floor someone was draining a big three-pointer, putting on a tough post move, or making a key block. It was two great teams giving one another everything that they had. You’re not going to get too many nights of more entertaining basketball this year. And let’s remember, as we’ve been reminded ad nauseam, the best player for either team wasn’t even on the floor last night.
1) First, a big thumbs down to my friend who lives down in the Research Triangle (and incidently, is probably more into basketball than I am) who left me a message last night noting that he was offered tickets to the game, and chose not to go. I’m assuming that there was probably a good reason that he didn’t make it out (I believe that he cited the perils of home ownership in his phone message). However, assuming that all of my limbs are attached, and my house isn’t on fire, I’m going to this game. Here’s hoping that my friend, who shall remain nameless in order to save him any further shame, has learned his lesson.
2) I’m going to get all of my Dick Vitale points out of the way in the next three points. Here’s my first comment. In the first few Vitale-called games that I’ve seen this year, I’ve wanted desperately to buy the guy a lozenge or something. Has anyone else noticed that Dick seems to be having some voice problems? He’s not fully lost his voice, but it sounds like he might have blown it out a bit in his first game or something. I hope he has time to heal up sometime. Otherwise, it’s going to be like that football season a few years back where Brett Favre screwed up his thumb early on, and ended up not being healthy all year. And I don’t want Dick’s voice still crackling during conference tournament time.
3) I appreciated the wisdom of Vitale while discussing players’ roles on a basketball team, as he noted that for every player, "your role is to win." Thanks, Dick, that doesn’t over-simplify the issue at all.
4) I’m normally not too offended by Vitale’s overzealous Duke love. I usually cut him some slack because I sort of enjoy his schtick, and I’m a guy who really enjoys watching Duke play, myself. Plus, Vitale’s defense that he gets excited about everything, and that there’s always lots to get excited about with Duke rings true to me. But did anyone catch his complete non-sequitur involving Duke last night? He was talking about the older players (i.e. sophomores) on North Carolina’s team, and how they would need to lead the freshmen this year. Then, right before a commercial, he noted that Greg Paulus and Josh McRoberts (what, DeMarcus Nelson’s not in this discussion?) would need to do the same for Duke. No one was talking about Duke, there was no smooth way to bring Duke into the conversation, and Duke had basically nothing to do with the issue at hand. Usually, Dick at least has someone throw him a mechanism for bringing the Blue Devils into the conversation when he talks Duke, but this one just came out of nowhere. Not that this is an entirely new phenomenon, but that would really bug me if I was a Carolina fan.
5) Count me among those who thought that Wayne Ellington saying before the game that he would be scoring 19 points for his 19th birthday, and then going out and scoring exactly 19 points was actually pretty entertaining. I’m thinking that he must have missed that first free throw that he had when he was on the line for two with 18 points.
6) I was a bit taken aback when an ESPN graphic noted that Tyler Hansbrough had reached his career high for rebounds in a game when he got to 12 boards. This guy was an all-American who averaged 7.8 boards per game last year. You mean to tell me that he averaged 8 rebounds, but never got more than 11? That’s freakishly consistent.
7) There was a moment when the announcers were going through a montage of great Carolina big men over the years, listing names like Cunningham, Perkins, Daugherty, Reid, Montross, Wallace and May. Excusing for the moment the exclusion of Wisconsin’s own Joe Wolf, do you think that Brendan Haywood, who’s still in the NBA logging minutes for the Wizards, is at all offended by not making the cut for this gratuitous montage? Because if I was Haywood, I’d be sitting at my TV and yelling "C’mon, I’m at least better than Montross!" Recognizing, of course, that Montross had a better college career.
8) I’ve probably said it before, but Greg Oden doesn’t just look like he’s 38 years old, he looks like that crafty 38-year-old dude at the playground who looks washed up, bothers the heck out of you when he scores 40 on you, and who you later learn was a division three all-American back in the late 1980s.
9) Does anyone else think that if medical science invented some sort of height-increasing drug, and we gave that drug to Devin Harris, that he’d look exactly like Brandan Wright?
10) So wait, you’re telling me that Ron Lewis is a senior for Ohio State? Do I really waste so much time paying attention to crap like Digger Phelps’ awful shirts and ties (martian-green was not a good look last night) that I actually missed this guy last year? I really need to start watching these games more closely.
As expected, it was a great game, and a great night. Not sure how I’m going to follow that one up tonight, but I’m sure I’ll find something. In the meantime, I’m going to be sitting around wondering how in the world Wisconsin can find a way to beat a team as good as Ohio State if they haven’t even hit their peak yet.
Oh, and I’d just like to point out that I went 9-2 in my Big Ten/ACC Challenge predictions. This includes me picking Michigan over N.C. State after the game had occurred, and Miami over Northwestern, which doesn’t hurt much, since Northwestern pretty much exists just to screw with my mind. So not a bad year of picks, even if I wish the Big Ten had put up more of a fight.