2011 NCAA Bracket Predictions: Is Ohio State Built to Withstand the East Region?
If there is a team that can withstand the juggernaut East Region, it's No.1 seed Ohio State (32-2).
"This Ohio State team is almost perfect, I tell you," writes Greg Doyel of CBSSports.com.
"It has four guys who hit 3-pointers. It has three (Craft, Lighty, Buford) who can play the point. It has two monsters down low (6-8, 255-pound Dallas Lauderdale is the other one). It has one of the best coaches in the country, probably the best coach in the country whose resume doesn't have a national championship on it. Yet."
All the ingredients are there. I definitely agree. The Buckeyes have what it takes to finish this off and cut down the nets, but they'll have to earn it and survive arguably the toughest region in the tournament.
As my colleague John Rozum pointed out, if Ohio State gets past George Mason or Villanova, then comes a matchup in the Sweet 16 with West Virginia or Kentucky. The Mountaineers, who reached the Final Four last year, posted wins against Notre Dame (two seed), UConn (three seed), Louisville (four seed), Purdue (three seed), and Georgetown (six seed).
Like I said: Ohio State's going to have to earn this.
Being a lifelong boxing fan, it reminds me a little of back in the day when you had that great group of champions in Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Sugar Ray lost once to Duran, but won the rematch and took down the rest of them.
For Ohio State to make it out of the East, they'll have to get past a West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina or Syracuse.
"Ohio State has a tough road, but will win the East," writes Eric Angevine of CBSSports.com. "There may not be a more complete team in the nation, with the heady play of Jared Sullinger around the basket and the rain of jumpers Jon Diebler will lay on anyone who doubles down on the big man. And that's going to be everyone, after all."
There's tons of praise being heaped on his team, but Ohio State coach Thad Matta is keeping perspective.
"I think it’s a great honor," he said after winning the Big Ten tournament on Sunday. "But as I’ll tell those guys when we get back to Columbus, it’s not going to score a point for us or get a rebound for us."
Matta knows just like we all do: This team's built to last. It can get through the East, and it should eventually cut down the nets.
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