Special thanks to Steve Spencer of The Columbus Dispatch for use of his "Mount Buckmore" artwork.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

"This is what happens when you put an NCAA tournament team in the NIT"

Though a few weeks ago I couldn't have disagreed more with the "NCAA Tournament team" portion of the above Jamar Butler quote (inspired by Walter Sobchak's "This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!" tirade?), I'm now fully convinced that the '07-'08 Buckeyes had the kind of heart, if not the kind of talent, to earn a spot in the field of 64.

Depending on how much value you personally place on the play-in game, OSU is now officially the 65th or 66th best team in the land. RPI rankings, for whatever those are worth (supposedly their weight in gold to the Tournament Selection Committee) placed the Buckeyes at 38th, before the win over YouMass. While on the subject, the last four wins OSU notched to finish out a suddenly satisfying season were over teams ranked 30th, 45th, 29th and 93rd, respectively (again, as of 4/3 and using bogus math.)

The game in NYC was as entertaining as one could hope for out of an NIT title match. OSU actually dug themselves out of a half-time deficit instead of tunneling deeper with errant perimeter shooting and the like. As far as the post game pandemonium goes, I missed the documented Butler catharsis but 11W and MotSaG have photos up. Though images from the post game celebration are far from Hallmark worthy, it would be an injustice to write off the NIT victory as insignificant--especially considering the steps made by Evan Turner, P.J. Hill (minutes are minutes), Dallas Lauderdale and the return of Kosta.

As for Mr. Koufos, the Mediterranean Mystery, all eyes turn to him between now and April 27th to see if he will return to Columbus for another season. Your guess is as good as any, as there seem to be few insider tips floating around about his leanings. Matta's philosophy on early departure seems to be even more laissez-faire (see: realistic) than Tressel's so if the Draft experts come a-knockin' then don't expect coach to stand between his prized recruit and the money he already turned down once. However, the good news for everyone that doesn't have a name rhyming with Mosta Loufos, is that neither NBADraft.net or DraftExpress list the OSU center as a first rounder.

The obvious "negative" to returning would be the possibility of being overshadowed by the pure-post player master work of incoming freshman B.J. Mullens. Jealousy, of course, is best remedied with a trip to the Final Four.

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