It is officially March, and that means people will start paying attention to college basketball. For those of us who have been watching all year, this is the payoff to our dedication. Regardless, the snow is melting, the flowers are coming out and it’s the best time to be a hoops fan.
For this week’s “You’re Nuts”, the Bucketheads Connor Lemons and Justin Golba are giving March some appreciation and digging deep into the memories for their personal favorite Ohio State basketball runs in the NCAA tournament.
To recap last week, the guys dug into their recruiting tin foil hats and picked which 2023 recruits they want Ohio State to land the most. Justin won with his pick of McKenzie Mgbako, receiving 61 percent of the vote while Connor’s pick of Dailyn Swain got 39 percent of the vote.
After 41 weeks:
(There have been two ties)
Now lets discuss this weeks topic. And as always, check out the Bucketheads podcast, available wherever you get your music and podcasts.
Today’s Question: What’s your favorite Ohio State NCAA Tournament run?
Connor: 2011-12 Final Four Run
This pick is completely tied to my personal experience/relationship with the game of basketball. I grew up a baseball fan. That was the only sport I spent any time watching when I was little. But towards the end of middle school, I started watching Ohio State basketball. I didn’t watch all the other teams, just the Buckeyes. Because I was born in Ohio and had always lived in Ohio and wanted to go to Ohio State when I “grew up.” So I watched the Buckeyes.
By high school, I was watching every single Ohio State men’s basketball game that I could. My schedule was based around the Buckeyes’ schedule. Thad Matta was the coolest cat ever, Jared Sullinger was a rock star, and Aaron Craft just embodied what I thought made college basketball so amazing. The NBA never drew me in, it still hasn’t. But college hoops did.
I was 14 when that 2011-2012 season rolled around, and it was stacked with Ohio talent. Sullinger was from Columbus, Craft grew up not far from Findlay — and by proxy not too far from Toledo, where I was. William Buford was from Toledo, just like me. Amir Williams was from Detroit, and I thought it was the funniest thing that he spurned the Michigan schools to go to Ohio State. I was all in.
I penciled in 2-seed Ohio State to win the national championship in my 2012 bracket at age 15. Naïve and optimistic, I didn’t think anyone was going to stop that vaunted lineup in March. The Buckeyes beat Loyola and then squeaked by Gonzaga on St. Patrick’s Day behind a 17-point, 10-assist double-double from Craft.
They whooped on Cincinnati, winning by 15 and then eeked by top-seeded Syracuse, who had Syracuse stars Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche, as well as future NBA Draftee Dion Waiters on the team. The Buckeyes pulled away in the second half behind a balanced scoring attack led by Lenzelle Smith Jr. On to the Final Four.
The 2012 Final Four game vs Kansas was a doozy. The Buckeyes had a nine-point halftime lead over fellow 2-seed Kansas. But that lead dried up, and it was a one-possession game in the final minute. DeShaun Thomas’ potential game-winning three-pointer with 20 seconds remaining was no good, and Buford wound up slamming it home off the rebound to get the Buckeyes within one point with nine seconds left. But Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor hit two free throws, giving the Jayhawks a three-point lead.
The Buckeyes could not get a three-pointer off in the final three seconds, as Travis Releford fouled Craft, sending him to the line for two free throws. Craft’s intentional miss wasn’t executed to perfection, and the Buckeyes lost by two points. 64-62.
I remember sitting in the basement of my childhood home tearing up because I loved watching that team so much, and they were so close! Now I had to wait a whole ‘nother eight months to watch Buckeye basketball? At the time, my world was ending, and it seemed completely appropriate to cry, as long as nobody heard me. Jeff Withey’s seven blocks still haunt my nightmares a decade later.
And that’s pretty much been my relationship with Ohio State men’s basketball ever since. That’s why the 2012 Final Four run is the one I will always remember.
Justin: 2006-07 National Championship run
This was really the first big tournament run that the Buckeyes had that I remember, being 10 years old when this team graced Columbus. There are a lot of reasons to love this team and I know they have a place in Buckeyes fans hearts forever.
First of all, man this team was fun. The freshman class of Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Daequan Cook, David Lighty, Danny Peters and Mark Titus was one for the ages and they made every game count, since it was the only season for three of them (Cook, Oden, Conley). Oden and Conley were high school teammates so they had that chemistry formed already. Oden would end up as the No. 1 draft pick in the 2007 NBA draft over a certain lanky forward from Texas by the name of Kevin Durant.
The Buckeyes went 35-4 overall and 15-1 in conference play. They earned the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and defeated Michigan, Purdue and Wisconsin to win the conference tournament and earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They were placed in the South Region and their road to a championship begun.
It was a much more rocky and entertaining tournament run than some people thought it would. They defeated Central Connecticut State in the first round 78-57 and, only thanks to Ron Lewis, they defeated the No. 9 seed Xavier in the second round 78-71 in overtime. The Buckeyes were down late to Xavier and Lewis nailed a three-pointer to tie the game and send it into overtime, where the Buckeyes dominated.
They then defeated the No. 5 seed and offensive juggernaut Tennessee, 85-84, behind a game winning block from Oden. In the Elite Eight, they defeated a talented Memphis team led by Chris Douglas Roberts, 92-76, in an offensive game I still remember.
As a Final Four member, the Buckeyes shifted gear and used great defense to take down Georgetown, 67-60, and Florida defeated UCLA to set up a showdown of huge magnitude. Florida was the defending national champions and their roster consisted of Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Corey Brewster, Taurean Green and Lee Humphrey.
Unfortunately, a 25 point, 12 rebound and four block performance from Greg Oden was not enough and Florida defeated Ohio State, 84-75. But even with this result, I love this team because it is the only Ohio State basketball national championship game I have ever watched. Even if it ended in tears and me cursing Billy Donovan for life (it didn’t work).
Which of these NCAA Tournament runs was more memorable?
This poll is closed
2006-2007 National Runner-Up (Justin)
2011-2012 Final Four (Connor)