Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 2007

NCAA title game boring, as usual

Florida-Ohio State, like most recent championship contests, fails to live up to billing

April 4, 2007


— Overrated! Overrated!

No, not Florida. The Gators are phenomenal. They have now duplicated Duke's rock-star teams of 1991 and '92 with two consecutive national championships.

No, I'm talking about the NCAA final itself. Florida's 84-75 win against Ohio State was another exercise in pleasant efficiency if you're a resident of Gator Nation, but otherwise as boring as usual.

It's not a coincidence. It's becoming a tradition. This makes seven times in the past 10 years that the winner has won by at least nine points.

Two-thirds of the time in the past decade, if you went to bed halfway through the second half, you didn't miss much.

That's not much of a percentage if you're hoping to see the next Lorenzo Charles or Rollie Massimino. And the reason why people refer to those finals in the 1980s so often is the ones that have followed have rarely measured up in electricity.

Just like 2006, when Florida beat UCLA by 16 in the final, there wasn't a single lead change in Monday night's second half. In fact, Ohio State never got closer than six.

This wasn't the Gators' fault. There simply was no team in the country that could beat them in this tournament, or even come close. Florida was a great and experienced team in the truest sense, full of fast playmakers who ran, scored, played defense and shared.

"One of the greatest teams of all time," Florida coach Billy Donovan called his squad, and who could argue? The Gators deserve all the glory for their back-to-back titles (sandwiching a football championship, no less).

Florida won despite not suiting up the game's best player. That was Ohio State freshman center Greg Oden, who did everything he could - 25 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. On the biggest stage, Oden played the finest game he has all season (and possibly his last in college).

But because Oden's teammates never could hit an outside shot, going 4-for-23 from beyond the three-point line, the game was never in doubt.

"We pretty much got every and anything out of Greg tonight," Ohio State guard Mike Conley Jr. said. "Our team needed to play as well as he was."

Florida big man Joakim Noah was No-ah factor. He was in foul trouble the whole game and only scored eight points. But Florida is so deep, it didn't matter.

Lee Humphrey - the senior guard who looks so clean-cut that Donovan jokes that he has milk and cookies every night before bed - hit a three-pointer almost every time Ohio State threatened.

I thought the game's key moment was early (a bad sign if you're hoping for a thriller), when Ohio State cut Florida's early lead to 24-22. The Gators promptly hit three straight three-pointers - the first by Humphrey - to set the tone that they would be the only ones making the treys (10-for-18).

Ohio State never got within five after that. The Gators oiled up their machine and went to work.

For us, it was repetitive.

For them, it was a repeat.


jayhawks71 10 years, 11 months ago

Yes, it was boring. This tournament seemed especially boring throughout, and the outcome sealed that perception for me. The overall favorite wins with nearly all the 4 and higher seeds making the Sweet 16. Snooze.

Katie Van Blaricum 10 years, 11 months ago

We could have at LEAST "come close" to beating them.

dlkrm 10 years, 11 months ago

There were actually a lot of exciting games in rounds 2 & 3, but the favorite came out on top almost 100% of the time. In 20 years, someone looking at the results might think it was terribly boring, and the final four and championship game certainly were, but there were some great games. How about Ohio State barely surviving the 2nd round, among others?

dlkrm 10 years, 11 months ago

And if you were a UCLA fan, it had to be thrilling that the refs wouldn't call any fouls during the regional final when the Bruins were hand-checking and hip-checking like crazy at the top of the key!

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