Posted on: March 20, 2010 6:29 pm

Volunteers Off to Missouri, Ohio Not Invited


Going into Saturday's second-round games in Providence, there was really one headscratcher. How the Bobcats, who already had denizens of the MAC tournament reeling, dropped 97 points on a very tough Georgetown team was one of the greatest mysteries of Thursday's play (and let's face it, Thursday itself was one of the most mystical days of NCAA Tourney play in history). 

Not that the Bobcats didn't deserve to be here. They did. A team that struggled during in-conference MAC play, John Groce's boys found a way to string together four games and win the MAC title and buy a bid into the proceedings. And while we're at it, let's call it like it was: they beat Georgetown legitimately.

Did Ohio have a shot running up against six-seeded Tennessee today? One thing was sure -- they'd get a chance to prove whether their defeat of the Hoyas was a fluke or not. After all, Tennessee this season isn't as good as the Hoyas probably were going into this tournament. As it turns out, though, the Vols were too much for the Bobcats as Tennessee sends Ohio packing with an 83-68 victory. And it's a good thing Tennessee didn't have to break too much of a sweat, because Wayne Chism's headband wasn't pulled down nearly far enough to handle that kind of action.

A back-and-forth game early with Tennessee pulling away late in the game and running off with the prize, J.P. Prince turned in 18 points -- with Brian Williams and Chism netting 12 rebounds apiece -- and the Ohio fairy tale was over in Providence. The Volunteers will head on to St. Louis, where Bruce Pearl can presumably sweat all over the St. Louis Arch, and play the winner of Sunday's Ohio State-Georgia Tech game, whom it is a given he will also sweat upon. As for Ohio, they'll go home with their hats in their hands -- but it was fun while it lasted, right guys?

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 18, 2010 9:37 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2010 9:41 pm

There's Something About Providence


Listen closely. If you are a high seeded team, or even if you're the favored team to win in the first or second rounds of the NCAA Tournament, it is very important that you stay away from Providence. Run the other way. Promise me you will. Even if you're good at something, like, say, cooking or landscaping. You will find, suddenly, that your powers are nullified when you cross the Rhode Island state line. 

There's something strange afoot in Providence. Earlier today, Robert Morris led Villanova practically the entire game before the Wildcats rose back up to beat them in overtime. Directly afterward, the Saint Mary's Gaels took on the favored seven-seed Richmond Spiders and not only edged them off the table, but soundly beat them to progress to a matchup Saturday against Villanova. 

To put it in the most basic terms, your pre-determined reputation of basketball prowess is not recognized at Dunkin' Donuts Arena. Why else would even a floundering number two seed (it's still a number two seed, for crying out loud) have this much trouble with a 15 seed? How could a scrappy Saint Mary's team which, by all accounts, was not the favorite to be here at all, have taken a flat-out rolling Richmond down so handily?

Oh, you want more proof? In an evening session game that should have been an absolute massacre, a very strong Georgetown team faced the Ohio Bobcats, who tanked their conference season in the MAC only to put together an unbelievable run and clinch the conference championship. I myself, in a move I now freely admit I was wrong about, declared on this very blog that Ohio didn't stand a chance. But I should have remembered that this is Providence. And apparently, anything can happen in Providence.

I'm not even sure Bobcats head coach John Groce could understand what he was seeing. His boys played unbelievably coolly, with incredibly level heads and a seriousness that never allowed them to even crack a smile or believe what they were accomplishing. Guard Armon Bassett looked like an All-American with 32 points. And in the end, an Ohio University team that has has only seen one prior NCAA Tourney win in 45 years brought it home, a prior number nine seed in the Mid-America Conference,defeated a tough Georgetown team to advance. 

And why shouldn't they have? This is Providence. It's magical, topsy-turvy providence. Up is down. Down is up. Cats are dogs. Ohios are Georgetowns.

Tennessee, there's still time to run. 
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 13, 2010 8:40 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2010 8:57 pm

Did I catch a "niner" in there?

Thomas Beisner

8:30 PM

For the first time since 2005, Ohio University has something to celebrate other than the greatest Halloween party in the history of the world.  Thanks to a dynamite backcourt duo of junior Armon Bassett and freshman D.J. Cooper, the ninth-seeded Bobcats are going dancing after knocking off third-seeded Akron in the MAC final, 81-75.

Bassett, a 6'2" transfer from Indiana, continued his dominance of the MAC tourney, going for 25 points on 8-16 shooting.  Bassett, who averaged 16 points in the regular season, absolutely went off in Cleveland, averaging 29 points in the Bobcats' four upset wins.  But, against a hungry Akron squad, the play of a struggling freshman was what the Bobcats needed to make a difference.

In their previous two games against Kent State and Miami, Ohio was able to advance without much contribution from their second-leading scorer.  D.J. Cooper combined for 1-10 shooting and four total points in the two contests, well below the 13 points he averaged in his inaugural college campaign.  Against the Zips, though, Cooper found his stroke again and put up the type of LeBron James-esque statline Cleveland has become accustomed to.  Cooper finished with 23 points, 7 rebounds and six assists, with 5 of those points and one crucial block coming in the extra period.

For head coach John Groce, it's a return to the tournament for the first time since Florida broke his little Buckeye heart in the national championship game in 2007.  This time, he'll again play the role of underdog - a position he seems to be comfortable with.

Ohio University, it's time to get your Cinderella outfits out seven months early.  You're going dancing.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Akron, MAC, Ohio
Posted on: March 13, 2010 4:26 pm

Get ready for some Buckeye on Buckeye MACtion

Thomas Beisner

4:00 PM

Under the watchful eye of second-year coach John Groce, an Ohio cult hero responsible for assembling OSU's Oden-Conley-Cook recruiting class, the ninth-seeded Ohio Bobcats have put together a Cinderella-like run in the MAC tournament.  After an overtime victory against the Ball State fighting Boom Goes the Dynamite Guys, Groce's squad beat down top-seeded Kent State by 17 points.  Now, after a 12-point victory over "MAC Daddy" Charlie Coles and his Miami Redhawks, all that stands between the Bobcats and a miraculous trip to the NCAA tournament is the Akron Zips.

However, the third-seed Zips don't plan on going into the night quietly.  Thanks to stats so evenly distributed Karl Marx wears a Zips hoodie, Akron has conquered their neighbors to the north, beating Eastern Michigan Thursday and Western Michigan on Friday.  Coach Keith Dambrodt, LeBron James' high school coach, doesn't have the luxury of a 6'8" 240 pound superstar anymore, so he relies on balance, playing eight guys at least 17 minutes per game. 

With neither team having a shot at an at-large bid, it's do or die tonight in Cleveland, which I'm sure is not the only time that statement's been made.  Maybe the first time it hasn't been literal.  If the Bobcats prevail, the NCAA tournament will have yet another heartwarming story and if the Zips should win, Kentucky might lose superfan LeBron James, whose front-running fandom (Yankees, Cowboys, Kentucky, Jordan's Bulls) knows no bounds.

It's the MAC and it gets started at 6 pm.  Don't miss it.

Category: NCAAB
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