The Cinderella upsets (Lehigh over Duke!) may get the most attention during the NCAA Tournament. And the off-the-court storlyines (pupil vs. mentor with Donovan and Pitino) may provide great talk radio fodder. But, ultimately, we're all here to see the best teams in the nation face off in a win-or-go-home situation. To that end, this matchup between No. 1 seed Syracuse and No. 2 seed Ohio State is what March Madness is all about.
The Buckeyes have proven too big and powerful for opponents as they've rolled to the East regional final. Coming off an an 81-66 win over intra-state rivals Cincinatti in the Sweet 16, Ohio State will take the floor again in Boston as a slight betting favorite. Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas have been dominating in the frontcourt while Aaron Craft has been a pest in the backcourt.
Craft will have his hands full tonight defending Syracuse's guard Scoop Jardine as he attempts to initiate the multi-faceted Orange attack. After stumbling out of the gates against No. 16 UNC-Asheville, Jim Boeheim's Orange seemed to find its bearings against Kansas State. Playing without defensive anchor Fab Melo due to eligibility issues that arose just before the tournament, Syracuse was given all it could handle (again) by Wisconsin in the Sweet 16.
"I think that was the best game anybody has ever played against us and didn't beat us," Boeheim said after the game.
Will Ohio State be able to top that?
FOLLOW HERE FOR LIVE UPDATES:
|@ JohnGasaway : That was 40 minutes and 48 fouls.|
Thomas sinks a pair of free throws to get our final score of 77-70 and that is all for the East regional.
Very, very likely it's too little too late but it's 75-70 with 2 seconds left.
Buford cans a pair of threes and this should do it.
After Triche misses drifting shot.. Syracuse eventually (but not immediately) fouls. Waiters done. Free throws good for OSU.
|@ TimCowlishaw : Announcers can't stop gushing over Craft who, uh, did commit 5 FOULS IN THE SECOND HALF and isn't on floor when OSU needs him.|
He misses the first and hits the second. 71-67 with 33.1 seconds left. Timeout Ohio State.
No inbounds steal or quick trap. Foul and Sullinger at the line.
Waiters drives... spins around Sullinger.. shot up.. good. whistle! Hoop and the harm. He hits! 70-67.
Pure on first.. 69-64.. same on second.. 70-64
Buckeyes' point guard is out and Triche FTs make it a 4-point game..
Joseph sinks a falling drive and Cuse is back within six.. and then INBOUNDS STEAL.. Triche scoops it gets fouled trying to score. Timeout. Triche to shoot..
Orange couldn't steal inbounds pass so they had to foul. Craft going to line.. first is good.. second splashes, too. 68-60
Triche drives against a Buckeye D wary of fouling and scores off the glass. 66-60. Timeout Syracuse.
Fair is tagged with and OSU leads stretches to 66-58
Waiters steps on end line and the ball is back to OSU. Press is broken and then timeout is called. 75 seconds to play and it's a 6 point lead for OSU.
And all that time ticked is in Buckeyes' back pocket after that shot falls!
Craft dribbling away clock as zone awaits.. here he comes with 11 left on shot clock..
Buckeyes call time after Triche goes 1-2 from line.
Triche comes in on the angle and forces whistles.. Craft has four fouls.
Triche answers quickly for Cuse. 62-57.
Craft brings it up, PSU passes around edges of 2-3 zone and then Smith gets through and drops a floater on the run!
With 3:45 there is more than enough time for Syracuse to rally but this game feels like the it's tilting toward Buckeyes...
|@ MikeMillerNBC : Ohio State's interior defense has been impressive last 2 games. Incredibly quick on strips, help d.|
Aside from obvious foul trouble, Orange are getting sloppy, turning it over on two straight trips.
Waiters, Southerland, Keita and Christmas have four fouls.
Boeheim is mumbling about this officiating being unbelievable. He should be lacing up his high tops because he may need to play after everyone fouls out.
That's another foul on Keita. He sinks both.. and OSU back on front foot..
Keita's bank is open on the first free throw. He misses the second and it's a two-point game.
Sullinger skies for defensive rebound after Triche miss then gets his game back on track with another big bucket at the other to push lead back to 3.