Today the Ohio State men’s basketball team takes to the road for one of those early season match-ups that make college basketball so interesting. (And, unlike football, an early season loss isn’t potentially fatal to your chances of winning it all.)
Tonight the Buckeyes take on Florida in Gainesville. Every Buckeye fan would like a bit of payback from Florida. We’re still smarting from the year in which the Gators thrashed the football Buckeyes in the BCS National Championship Game and then beat the Buckeye roundballers in the NCAA Championship Game. This game, however, is interesting for reasons that go beyond possible revenge. Both teams are ranked in the early season Top 10. Florida has a good team, and the Buckeyes have a corps of seasoned veterans and a bunch of youngsters who will be playing their first road game — a game that will just happen to be nationally televised.
I think this game will be a real challenge for Ohio State. The Gators play a pressing defense and Ohio State has no experienced point guard. That probably means that freshman Aaron Craft will be asked to try his hand at breaking the press in a hostile environment in an ESPN game. It is a lot to ask of a freshman — and if you can’t get the ball up court, all of your front court talent won’t mean much. This will be a learning experience for the youngsters, a leadership challenge for the veterans, and a teaching opportunity for coach Thad Matta and his staff.
I’m hoping the Buckeyes can prevail. It would be nice to take a bite out of the Gators for a change.