Friday, March 23, 2007

Nine Lives Buckeyes

If Ohio State manages to win three more games and clinch a national title, this might go down in history as the year the Buckeyes had nine lives.

The Buckeyes couldn't be any more catlike if they were using the basketball standard as a scratching post.

Five days after surviving a double-digit second half deficit and needing a Ron Lewis three-pointer to force overtime against Xavier, Ohio State had to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit, trailing by as many as 20 in the second half, and needed a Greg Oden block in the final seconds to beat Tennessee 85-84 and advance to the Elite Eight.

If you were anything like me, exhausted from a day at work and an evening of errands, you watched the first half, snapped off the TV and went to bed. Sure, the Buckeyes might rally, I thought, but I'm not willing to gamble away two hours of sleep on it, not with the team in a 17-point hole.

So I got up this morning, turned on the TV and waited for the ESPN ticker to cycle through, hoping for, but not really expecting, what I saw.

And, you know what? I was happy, but I wasn't turning handsprings. The Buckeyes have needed two heart-pounding comebacks against a nine-seed and five-seed just to get to this point. Now Memphis awaits on Saturday for a trip to Atlanta and the Final Four.

Is Ohio State going to need another wave of the magic wand against Memphis? And what if they make it to the Final Four? If you fall behind by 20 to North Carolina, UCLA or Florida, you aren't coming back.

Ohio State is playing like they're the first one-seed Cinderella team in history. But the idea is, the games are going to get tougher as you go deeper into the tournament. If you need a couple of nailbiters to knock of Xavier and Tennessee, what are you going to do when the competition really gets tough?

These are the teams Ohio State is supposed to beat. The teams they are supposed to have trouble stopping haven't arrived yet. And all this buzzer-beating is giving me the feeling that Ohio State is playing on borrowed time.

Cats are always supposed to land on their feet. So far, Oden, Lewis and company have been able to do the same. We'll see how many more cliffhangers they can produce before it finally catches up to them.

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