Before we get to why Indiana was an embarrassment last night, let's give credit where credit is due. LaQuinton Ross was a beast last night and Ohio State pulled off another game winner. Here is the shot in GIF form. (via Busted Coverage)
Everything about this play was awesome. Craft was doing Craft things just beyond the arc on the right side and because he's Craft, Arizona is all up in his business forcing a double team or a bad shift (I would have to watch the entire sequence again to understand how a guy could be that out of position. Neither the backside help or the nearside help was there and Ross just had to bury a shot with feet set. Also worth noting. It's a damn good thing that Arizona did not create a good play resulting in a tying shot after that absurd stoppage of play after this shot. Really guys? You added a tenth of a second back? Because that was perceivable and mattered? We really need to work on taking the games out of the official's hands. That was an unbelievable extra timeout for the Wildcats, especially considering they had burned their last one on a crappy jumpball (also terribly interpreted in this game) avoiding, non-possession reaction call. All that to say, congratulations Ohio State, you did your part and we were definitely on our way to an #ALLB1GEVERYTHING. (Indiana fans, you know where this is going)
To say that Indiana was disappointing last night would be a vast understatement. Look, I know that Syracuse probably plays the toughest zone defense in the country, but you also know that they play the toughest zone in the country and yet Crean's troops took terrible angle after terrible angle to the paint and had no idea that there would be traps in the corner. When that stopped working, or rather failed to start working, Crean's decision was to keep at it. How many times did we watch sets for Zeller in the paint where three Orange defenders would collapse on him and get the block? There was no midrange game to speak of for Indiana and when the inside-out didn't work, the Hoosiers looked dead in the water. Even when they managed to pull back within six and it looked like they might be on the verge of making it a one possession game, you still felt like the momentum wasn't enough because Indiana's halfcourt offense was anemic. Obviously credit where credit is due, Jim Boeheim had a plan, stuck to it, and exploited every weakness on the Hoosier team. Jordan Hulls guarded about as well as I would have in his situation (I was one of the first kids to play on the freshman team twice, so yeah...) and instead of trying to protect him, that lame aggressive man-to-man just kept on keeping on.
So I guess that's that. We will not be having an All-B1G Final Four now, and arguably the best team in the conference will be flying home to lick their wounds and consider the NBA. I have no idea why Oladipo and Zeller would not go up early considering this game won't be the only factor in their draft stock. That really does not bode well for the Hoosiers, though. Crean has shown he can recruit, and honestly, he has gotten his team further and further from a wins standpoint. Now he needs to show it in March. That's not a call for his head, but rather a call for him to use his talent.
Anyhow, on to this evening for the B1G:
Michigan vs Kansas 6:37 Central; TBS
The proverbial 'star power' in this matchup is just insane. Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III, Ben McLemore, Jeff Withey, Travis Releford, and more freshman on both sides who are just waiting to break out in the tournament. While last night's Indiana-Syracuse game was a little more fun on paper, this game should actually be, you know, fun. These teams run fast and hard, get ridiculous streaky shooting that usually leads to points, and cannot play a consistent game of defense to save their lives. Both teams lost to terrible teams this season, and both teams were at the top of the CBB world at some point in this season. I'm mostly excited to watch this because it will be like MACtion - defense optional. The turning point should hinge solely on who decides to try and stop the other. If this game goes to extra time, I think they should forego an actual game and just have Burke and McLemore play 1-on-1 for the win. I'd probably enjoy that as much as anything.
Michigan State vs. Duke 8:45 Central; CBS
I think the Spartans win this game.
With that said, I think we need to take a step back and appreciate the coaching left in this region. Izzo, K, Pitino, and Altman. While Dana is not the world beater the other three have proven to be, he is also a strategic guy who is just coming into his own in three years with the Ducks. Whoever comes out of this region will be the front-runner for National Champion this year, if only because the coaching here is just unreal.
As for the game. I really think Michigan State has the team to beat Duke. Duke's offense is not so good and Michigan State's defense is definitely good. Conversely, Michigan State has the athletes to play with the Devils on the other side. While Duke might be one of the best teams left in the tournament, this is not the matchup they wanted. MSU can grind in the halfcourt and will not give you a lot of second looks. If Keith Appling shows up, I don't see Duke countering very easily. Also, can we all stop trying to play up the Ryan Kelly narrative now? He's not 100% and it's obvious that the schemes Coach K is running are playing into that fact.
- A good place to start would be Tom Fornelli of The Champaign Room. He had a little bit of fun on twitter last night at the expense of the Hoosiers. If you enjoy watching the Hoosier faithful steam over their loss, it's probably entertaining for you.
- John M. has the Hoosier recap over at the Crimson Quarry. As expected, he wasn't exactly pleased with Indiana's offense.
- Horace E. Cow at BHGP with the Fran Graphs treatment of the Hawkeyes NIT game against Virginia.
- Michigan. Kansas. The preview over at MnB by HoldTheRope. treyburketreyburketreyburke (I think he's going to go bananas tonight)
- Following the Minnesota coaching search is interesting because really, nobody knows where this thing is going. There were reports of Shaka and The Mayor, and maybe Buzz, and maybe Greg Williams, and maybe... Well, whatever, TDG has the info here.
- Chris Vannini with the Spartans-Devils preview over at TOC. Everyone thinks this game looks like a tossup. I really think Sparty shows up and wins one for the B1G. Duke is bound for a collapse, right? RIGHT!
- Nebraska is not worried about basketball right now. So let's talk Quarterbacks. More specifically, Brandon Cavanaugh of Corn Nation talks everyone not named Taylor Martinez.
- Sippin on Purple has some good Chris Collins stuff. Also, click on their homepage for their Breaking News banner used oh so well.
- A deeper recap on the Ohio State win courtesy of Luke Zimmerman at LGHL. Also, LaQuinton Ross y'all.
- Yesterday BSD put out why Pat Chambers can make things happen for the Lions. Today? Why Pat Chambers is doomed to failure. Devon Edwards tries to find faults in the program... and does.
- Purdue guys have had a rough year. H&R is smiling this morning. "It's as if millions of voices cried out, then were suddenly silenced."
- Phil Mitten of B5Q has his Could-Been-Badgers All Star list. Interesting take on the ones that got away.
And because I love this song and it feels like a fitting elegy to the Hoosiers lame ending last night, here is a live version of Delta Rae performing "Bottom of the River"