Buckeyes Lose Basketball Championship Game

A group of Buckeyes fans moments after OSU's loss to Florida
A group of Buckeyes fans moments after OSU's loss to Florida

The Ohio State Buckeyes had a shot at their first national basketball championship in 45 years last night. But the Florida Gators snatched that chance away just as they did three months ago when the two schools met for football’s collegiate championship. Florida beat Ohio State 84 to 75.

Some restaurants and bars along North High Street were filled to capacity Monday night for the NCAA championship game. Buckeyes fans at Eddie George’s restaurant who could not get in had great views from the sidewalk thanks to the giant TV screens above the bar. OSU student Jonathan Horning stood with friends and more than a hundred others.

“It’s a good rematch from the football championship and I’m excited to see these two battle,” Horning said. “It’s going to be a great match for tonight.”

Parked at the corner Phil Condek II and his father watched part of the game seated atop a Hummer decorated for the occasion.

“The Hummer H1 is decorated with a couple of little alligators each representing the starting five from the Florida crew,” Condek said. “They’re going to be turned into luggage shortly after the game. Personally, No. 13 will be my boots.”

Unfortunately for the Buckeyes an experienced Florida team including No. 13, Joakim Noah, proved to be a problem for the Buckeyes, the Gators’ starting five have played as a team for several years versus Thad Matta’s relatively young group of Buckeyes, among them Mike Conley, Jr. and 7-footer Greg Oden.

“Ohio State basketball has really thrived with Conley and Oden stepping up from the high school level,” said Jonathan Horning. “So I just get excited to see these young diaper dandies coming in and play at this level of basketball.”

By halftime Ohio State trailed Florida by 11 points, a troubling predicament for spectator Walter Smith, though Nick Ammons was not as worried.

“I’m kind of disappointed that we’re playing a little tight,” Smith said. “I think in the second half we should let it all hang out and remember why we’re here.”

“Thad Matta, he’ll bring us back, I’m tellin’ ya,” said Ammons. “Second half we’re gonna be a good team, we’ll be all right, I’m tellin’ ya.’”

“But again we gotta learn how to put teams away in the second half and stop relying on the second half,” said Smith. “But you know we’re playing the Florida Gators and they’re good.”

Too good, as it turned out, for the Buckeyes; Ohio State losing in spite of Greg Oden’s best game in the tournament. Despite the loss, fan Michael Randolph says Oden’s future looks promising.

“So much hype around him, he’s huge,” Randolph says. “And he’s going to come into the NBA exactly the way Shaquille O’Neal was. He puts about 30 or 40 pounds of muscle on? There’s your next Shaq right there. He’s already got the inside presence, he’s got the footwork; he just needs to work on his foul control and his speed. He needs to work on getting up and down the floor.”

Oden kept out of foul trouble and finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds in 38 minutes on the court. But his teammates missed too many three pointers. Florida beat Ohio State 84 to 75.