COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The No. 1 team in the country was here Sunday. So was the No. 1 team in the country. Ohio State is ranked first by the coaches, second by the media. Wisconsin is ranked first by the media, second by the coaches.
You'd think that, one way or the other, the best team in college basketball was in the building Sunday.
Good heavens, I hope not.
If the best team this 2007 season has to offer was at the Schottenstein Center on Sunday, college basketball needs to die and come back as something else. Perhaps rugby. Or hockey. Lacrosse? Anything but that la-schlock I saw Sunday.
|An elbow injury wasn't the only painful thing Brian Butch had to deal with Sunday. (AP)|
But nationally? Ohio State cannot be the best team in America. Not the Ohio State team I saw Sunday. And that's taking into account the prehistoric tar pit Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan likes to throw on the floor, gunk meant to swallow a mastodon like Greg Oden.
To that end, it worked. Wisconsin can't score enough points to beat a team fair and square -- I equate offensive prowess with fair play ... sue me -- so the Badgers bogged down the athletically superior Buckeyes and kept this unwatchable game in the 40s, which was a shame considering the game was televised on CBS and not that rinky-dink, four-letter network that deserved a game like this more than my lovely company.
Oden had 11 points. I watched the whole thing and thought he had six. Or four. Maybe I fell asleep for a few of his baskets.
Look, Ohio State has a very good team. The Buckeyes have depth and talent and a great coach in Thad Matta. They have the next David Robinson in Oden, the next Chris Paul in Michael Conley, and lots of solid complementary pieces. One of those pieces is Daequan Cook, whose scoring average has been cut nearly in half, from 15 ppg to 8.3 ppg, since the Buckeyes entered conference play. Cook has all the tools in the world, and he thinks he's headed to the NBA perhaps as soon as this summer, but he sums up this OSU team:
Tons of potential. Ought to be great. But something's missing.
I can't tell you what that missing ingredient is, but I have good company. Matta also can't figure it out, because if he knew what it was, he'd fix it. As it is, he's got something pretty special -- the No. 1-ranked team in the country, 26-3 and barreling down on a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament -- but he has a team that isn't good enough to win the national title unless something major changes.
Is Ohio State worthy of being No. 1?
Total Votes: 9,461
Wisconsin? The Badgers weren't good enough to win the national title -- period -- and that was before cryin' Brian Butch left Sunday's game with an elbow injury that might end his third consecutive disappointment of a season. The Badgers can make do without Butch's soft play and yucky body. What Wisconsin can't overcome is its offensive liabilities at three positions on the floor. Centers Jason Chappell and Greg Stiemsma can't score. Small forward Joe Krabbenhoft doesn't want to score. Point guard Michael Flowers doesn't shoot well enough to score. The Badgers are Kammron Taylor, Alando Tucker and Bo Ryan's quicksand.