Drew Thurman (12:12 pm)
I'm back from my honeymoon in the Dominican Republic and playing catch-up with everything going on in the sports world. Fútbol and ESPN Deportes was all I could get on the tube, so it feels nice to be back in the States. Well, besides leaving the beach.
Anyway, enough about me—let's get to some of the news...
B1G Ten Tourney Bracket
The Big Ten Basketball Tournament starts this Thursday, and the bracket has been officially released. After their dismantling of Wisconsin on Sunday, the Buckeyes won't play again until Friday at noon.
They get the winner of Northwestern vs. Minnesota, who have both faded down the stretch of the Big Ten season, especially Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have lost nine of their last 10 games and don't appear ready to put a run together in any way. If the Buckeyes do end up facing the Wildcats, it should be a very interesting matchup considering their showdown in Evanston back in January.
If you weren't lucky enough to be in Columbus for the game against Wisconsin yesterday, you have to check out this video of the pregame from The Plain Dealer. The pregame video showcased some attitude, mocking the Badgers and Bo Ryan's "Deal with it" comment. Considering the performance that followed, this video is gold.
Thad Matta and company really haven't gotten the kind of respect you might expect considering what they have proved on the court this year. If the Buckeyes played in the Big East or ACC, the national media would likely be giving them much more attention and love.
With that said, Eamonn Brennan of ESPN has made his feelings very clear on how good he thinks this Buckeye team really is.
"It’s time, once and for all, to shelve the no-great-teams line. You’ve heard this before. You’ve heard it a lot, in fact. The line has been ubiquitous: 'There are no great teams in college basketball this season.' If hearing the line is tedious, constantly arguing against it isn’t much better. I don’t want to be the guy who keeps bringing this up, trust me. But now that the regular season is over, the entire concept deserves one last thorough dismissal, because the Ohio State Buckeyes are definitively a great team.
"If we needed further evidence to this effect, see Sunday’s insane offensive effort against Wisconsin in which Jon Diebler and the Buckeyes only put on the single greatest long-range shooting display in Division I hoops history. (Ohio State shot—get this—14-of-15 from beyond the arc. They scored 1.63 points per possession. Their effective field goal percentage was 83.0, which is as historically insane as anything we’ve seen in the past five years, and probably longer.)"
He goes on to say:
"Of course, a national championship is often our best—sometimes only—retroactive barometer of greatness. Ohio State may have to win it all in early April to get the sort of historical credit it deserves. But if the Buckeyes fall short of a national title—if they, like so many other teams, fall victim to the oh-so-crazy nature of the NCAA tournament—don’t listen to the eventual no-great-teams naysayers. After 31 games, what better adjective do we have to describe this team than, well, great?"
Winter Conditioning Coverage
The football team has been in winter conditioning since January, which is being concluded this week with a series of 6 a.m. workouts before finals week. This morning the media was allowed to join the fun, which means tons of analysis and coverage can be found all over the web. You can read up here, here, here, here and here. If you want a CliffsNotes version of all of that, here ya go:
* Bobby Carpenter showed up to watch the end of workouts.
* There are a lot of players coming back from injury this spring. The notable guys include Terrelle Pryor, Jonathan Hankins, (CB) Corey Brown and Melvin Fellows, who were all working out with the injured players. Tyler Moeller and C.J. Barnett were fully participating in practice, but both are limited in certain areas as they try to get back to 100 percent.
* Everyone is blown away by true freshman Joel Hale. While all the freshmen received praise from OSU strength and conditioning coach Eric Lichter, it was Hale that looked the most impressive in the drills. Brandon Castel noted this about Hale's performance this morning:
"Smith might have looked the most impressive, but the best performance of the day belonged to true freshman Joe Hale. The kid should be a senior in high school right now and absolutely dominated both John Simon and Nate Williams in the 'band war' drill, which Lichter called his favorite drill.
"For those not familiar with the drill, two guys enter a circle and they are banded together with a tether. One guy has to drag the other guy out of the circle using brute strength. Hale worked Simon twice, went and puked in the trash can then rallied to beat Nate Williams. It was impressive."
* Everyone is drooling over Roderick Smith and how well he passes "the look test." He turned heads during bowl practice, and he is the big-bodied running back that Buckeyes fans love to watch. Jordan Hall is looking the best in drills though. He is very quick, and everyone is impressed with how hard he works.
* Jim at tBBC has a full list of those players that looked the best and another list of those who showed the best effort—check it out.