Tonight Ohio State plays Florida for the National Championship in basketball. If Ohio State wins, I will have lost my bracket pool to a bracket determined by coin flips and picked Davidson to face the Buckeyes tonight. At least I will be in the company of three friends:
Hurricanes Are For Drinking
Run Up The Score
The Sports Flow
8:39 pm: Watching the ESPN preview. If Bruce Pearl were a broadcaster, he would be the heir apparent to Dick Vitale. He has the energy, and he really knows his basketball. You probably knew that; the Vols would be in big trouble if he didn’t.
9:00 pm: Everyone is picking Florida to win. Under normal circumstances I would consider that a clear sign that the Buckeyes will win tonight. But Florida is such a good team, and this tournament has been so chalky, I don’t know what to think.
9:15 pm: Ladies And Gentlemen, Jim Nantz and Billy Packer!
9:23 pm: The game begins! Florida wins the tip, but misses their first shot. OSU fares no better.
9:24 pm: 3-2, Florida. A bad inbound pass is stolen by Mike Conley, who gets the easy layup. Florida runs the break and Brewer hits a quick three.
9:25 pm: 5-3, OSU. Great passing leads to an open three by Ivan Harris.
9:27 pm: 5-5. Noah steals a pass in the halfcourt, and Humphrey gets the easy layup on the break.
Considering the strength in the middle, I’m surprised that both teams are settling for outside shots so far.
9:28 pm: 7-5, OSU. Conley drives to the right and gets another layup to give the lead to the Buckeyes.
9:28 pm: 9-5, OSU. We finally have our first true points in the paint, as Oden hits a shot with his left hand.
9:29 pm: 9-7, OSU. Taurean Green drives in for a tough basket in the lane. The Gators did a good job of creating space for him.
As we hit the first official timeout, Florida is using their bench early, much more so than the Buckeyes.
9:33 pm: 9-9. Walter Hodge ties the game with another inside drive. I didn’t expect to see so much inside play by the guards against some of the best big men in America.
9:36 pm: 11-11. Florida is doing a good job of pressuring Conley. He’s being forced to make bad passes, and he almost threw one away there.
9:37 pm: Considering how tight the refs are calling this game, you think that Oden would have been called for a foul for elbowing Corey Brewer in the ribcage.
9:39 pm: 14-11, Florida. Green give Florida the lead on free throws. Jamar Butler comes in for Conley, who has two fouls.
9:40 pm: 17-11, Florida. Hodge steals the ball from Butler and gets three the hard way. Conley is being missed already. Florida has been very opportunistic, getting 10 of their 17 points off OSU turnovers.
9:42 pm: 17-13, Florida. Official timeout.
9:46 pm: 20-15, Florida. Brewer hits another three on the fast break.
Greg Oden has played for 10 straight minutes, but he’s been putting in a lot of effort. He needs a breather.
9:47 pm: 21-15, Florida. Conley is back in the game despite foul trouble. Ohio State needs the ball handling.
9:49 pm: So far it’s clear that Florida is the deeper team. I think they can take the approach UNC normally takes in their games, dictating a faster tempo until they run Ohio State ragged. It’s foolproof, because unlike the Tar Heels, I don’t see a mental collapse from these Gators.
Official Timeout. 7:59 left, first half.
9:53 pm: 23-17, Florida. Horford get his first basket, a bank shot from the left side. Conley drives in for a layup on the next possession.
A lot more points are coming from the guards today than one would expect.
9:54 pm: 23-19, Florida. A great pass by Conley, and Mark Terwilliger gets the emphatic dunk! The Buckeyes are a completely different team with Conley at point instead of Butler.
Florida is starting to miss free throws. This could become trouble later, as the game winds down and their legs get tired.
9:56 pm: 27-22, Florida. Ivan Harris hits a three to bring the lead to two, but Lee Humphrey responds immediately.
9:57 pm: 30-22, Florida. What a sweet shot by Brewer. He hasn’t missed one yet from three.
9:58 pm: 33-22, Florida. Taurean Green hits another three for the Gators, as they take the game’s first double digit lead. Florida has been on fire from the bonusphere. Their effectiveness is sort of sneaky, in that so much emphasis is put in Florida’s frontcourt, but games like this they kill you from the perimeter. Although Lee Humphrey shooting lights out should not surprise anyone.
10:03 pm: 35-24, Florida. Brewer swipes Conley clean, breaks away and delivers the windmill jam. Brewer has 11 points. Not that it matters now, but it would have been a lot of fun to see Brewer vs. Kevin Durant in a college game.
10:07 pm: 37-26, Florida. Oden has scored the last two baskets for Ohio State, but he’s looking very tired. He didn’t even challenge Horford’s jumpshot.
10:08 pm: 40-27, Florida. Green hits another three. The Gators are 6 of 8 for beyond the arc, and have made their last 5.
10:09 pm: The first half ends, and Florida leads, 40-29 at halftime. Florida dominated the pace of the game in the first half, and in particular did a great job taking Oden and Conley out of their comfort zone. To comeback in this game Ohio State will need to clamp down on perimeter defense, win the rebounding battle, and attack inside against Florida’s frontcourt, who already have two players with two fouls each.
10:31 pm: 40-31, Florida. As the second half begins, Oden gets position inside and gets an easy shot off the glass. He’s scored the last 9 points for the Buckeyes.
10:32 pm: 42-35, Florida. Conley steals from Green and makes a great pass to Ron Lewis, who posterizes Corey Brewer.
10:33 pm: 42-36, Florida. As I suggested, Ohio State is attacking the inside, and Noah picks up his third foul.
10:34 pm: 44-36, Florida. Chris Richard gets an easy dunk, a putback of a miss by Brewer.
This has nothing to do with the game, but I saw an ad for CBS featuring CSI: Miami, and I just couldn’t resist showing you the best CSI spoof ever.
10:36 pm: 49-38, Florida. Lee Humphrey cannot be stopped.
10:46 pm: 51-42, Florida. Conley brings the Buckeyes within five, as Ohio State finally gets to the free throw line. But Florida gets an easy shot inside on the next possession.
10:47 pm: 51-44, Florida. Ohio State continues to score in the paint, where they have 32 of their 44 points.
10:50 pm: 53-44, Florida. With 12 minutes left, Florida’s frontcourt is in deep foul trouble now. Let’s see if Ohio State can use that to take the lead back.
10:53 pm: 53-46, Florida. Conley hits the tough revers layup, as Ohio State tries to attack the foul troubled frontcourt of the Gators.
10:54 pm: 56-46, Florida. On the very next possession, Lee Humphrey fakes out Jamar Butler and hits another three to give Florida a double digit lead.
10:57 pm: 58-47, Florida. In spite of the foul trouble, Florida is running Oden ragged. He can’t outfight the Gators for a rebound anymore, and Horford is able to slam it on the other end uncontested.
10:59 pm: 61-50, Florida. Noah picks up his fourth foul but Oden is absolutely exhausted now. Before the commercial break, I think I heard Jim Nantz say “The F—eyes!”
11:01 pm: 64-52, Florida. A great initial block by Oden, but how can anyone leave Humphrey so wide open?
11:04 pm: 64-56, Florida. Ohio State scores two straight baskets, and is starting to run a press against the Gators. With Florida’s good passing, this could backfire.
11:11 pm: 66-60, Florida, 5:00 left. You have to commend Greg Oden, He’s had to play three different Florida players for 33 minutes and is still producing a solid performance.
11:12 pm: 69-62, Florida, 4:30 left. Just as Oden cuts the lead to 6, Taurean Green hits a three at the top of the key.
11:13 pm: 73-62, Florida, 3:25 left. Florida is beginning to kill time. Richard and Horford both hit shots inside, and Florida regains a double digit lead.
11:14 pm: With two and a half minutes to go, the Gators up 11, and Ohio State running on fumes, this game looks pretty much over.
11:17 pm: So that’s why Ohio State is losing. Jim Tressel isn’t wearing the sweater vest.
11:19 pm: 75-63, Florida, 2:15 left. As Florida is closing in on being at the pinnacle of college basketball, I begin to wonder: whatever happened to Teddy Dupay, one of the players that first put Billy Donovan’s team on the map? He was their star point guard when they shocked Duke in 200 en route to the 2000 NCAA Tournament finals before losing to Michigan State. Yet I have not heard from him since.
11:22 pm: Damn. If you thought Joakim Noah was ugly, you should take a look at Yannick. Nnnyyyagghhh…
11:29 pm: It’s official: Florida wins, 84-75, and captures their 2nd consecutive national championship. Congratulations to the Gators, who executed a near perfect gameplan, giving Oden and Conley fits all night, shooting lights out from three, and silencing all the critics (myself included; I had them losing to Maryland in my bracket). Most importantly, with Ohio State’s loss I am spared the embarrassment of losing a bracket challenge to a penny. Corey Brewer is the Most Outstanding Player, which he deserves. His overall play was insane tonight.
I’ll be liveblogging the Women’s National Championship tomorrow night, but now I’m going to bed.