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Oden-less Buckeyes Scare Tar Heels

By hagrin - Posted on 01 December 2006

In the second biggest matchup of the early college basketball year (Florida v. Kansas was probably a bigger game), Ohio State travelled into Chapel Hill and gave North Carolina a really good run for 20 minutes before losing by 9 points last night. However, even in losing, Ohio State proved itself as a legitimate contender come March by playing at Carolina's level in their building and without the best freshman in the nation. Greg Oden sat and watched as his team rained three pointer after three pointer in the 1st half - a shooting display that I haven't seen in any basketball game (college or pros) in a very long time. Although Ohio State is young and they lost Terence Dials from last year, the Buckeyes showed that they have an extremely high level of athleticism that allows them to breakdown opposing defenses off the dribble, drive to the hoop, get after it on the glass and stroke the three ball.

And with all that said, North Carolina still won the game by 9.

North Carolina might be the deepest team in the country. Roy Williams ran two waves of players out on the court last night and at no point was any one unit overmatched by OSU's main weapons. Although all the hype goes to Tyler "The Golden Boy" Hansbrough, the Tar Heels received major contributions from Ellington, Lawson and Wright - all freshmen. In addition, Bobby Frasor, who might see his playing time decrease dramatically with the rise of Lawson, hit two huge threes to give UNC a tremendous push when OSU was still stroking their outside shots with great consistency.

So what can we take away from this game?

  • The pace that UNC plays at and their depth will give lesser teams major problems on Day Two of the tournament in March. However, if they run into a team like Butler who slows it down and has capable guard play to handle the pressure, UNC might have difficulties. Teams that play fast almost always will lose because teams that play slow have a much easier time dictating the pace
  • Both OSU and UNC will be very difficult to zone - they both knock down the open, outside jump shot with relative ease plus OSU's shooters have range for days.
  • How will OSU's pace and tempo change with Oden, a 7 footer, on the court? Will they slow the pace down? If they do, it might actually hinder the OSU offense which looks tremendous in transition.
  • Both of these teams could play with Kansas and Florida; however, the inside guys for the Jayhawks (Wright, Arthur and Kahn) and Gators play a much higher brand of defense than the two teams we saw last night.
  • With the new NBA age restriction, the level of play at the more prominent schools has been raised significantly and the rule's effect is evident on the college game.

College basketball is in full swing - expect a lot more posts for the next 4 months.