Florida, Ohio State could meet in another postseason title tilt Print
Written by Admin   
Monday, 31 March 2008 11:13
NCAAB Headline News


 NEW YORK (AP) -Ohio State had just lost three straight games in mid-January when Thad Matta got on the phone with Florida coach Billy Donovan, looking for some insight into how to handle a young team or some encouraging words from a close colleague.
So much for that.
``He started laughing and said, 'You think you've got problems?''' Matta recalled Monday.
All of those freshmen and sophomores who replaced the star-studded cast of last year's national title game have grown up, though, and Florida and Ohio State are back in the final four - though nobody's mistaking the NIT for the NCAA tournament.
If the two-time defending national champion Gators can beat Massachusetts and the Buckeyes get past Mississippi in the NIT semifinals Tuesday night, they'll play a rematch of last year's title game Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
``If you take the amount of players in the national championship last year that are now in NBA uniforms ... I'm not surprised where we're at,'' said Donovan, putting the postseason in perspective. ``This is a path for our program and our team right now that we've got to go through.''
It's not a path either team expected to take.
The youthful Gators started 18-3 and had everybody momentarily forgetting first-round picks Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Joakim Noah, and second-round selections Taurean Green and Chris Richard. And it's not what the Buckeyes, without departed draft picks Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook, were expecting when they beat Michigan State in their regular-season finale.
But Florida wilted down the stretch and Ohio State fell to the Spartans in the Big Ten tournament, and for the first time since 1980 the two finalists from the previous year were left out of the NCAA field.
``It's not the national championship game, but it's still a tournament,'' said Buckeyes guard Jamar Butler, who scored 13 points when Ohio State beat Florida in December. ``We had the mind-set coming in that we wanted to win this.''
Ohio State (22-13) hasn't been tested in the NIT, coasting past UNC-Asheville, California and Dayton to reach New York.
The Gators (24-11), the first defending champions to miss the tournament since 1989, also have breezed through the bracket. Easy home wins over San Diego State and Creighton set up a quarterfinal at Arizona State, where Florida shot a season-high 60.5 percent from the floor in toppling the top-seeded Sun Devils.
``We have a young team and we haven't played a lot together,'' Florida forward Dan Werner said. ``We know that we might get a chance to play Ohio State, but right now we're just so focused on UMass.''
Massachusetts (24-10) was among the last teams left hanging on Selection Sunday, but quickly regrouped to beat Stephen F. Austin in the NIT's opening round. The Minutemen then showed some perseverance behind coach Travis Ford, rallying from 12 down with 8 1/2 minutes left to beat Akron and 22 down with 14:34 left to beat Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.
One of the rising stars in coaching, Ford has returned Massachusetts to basketball's main stage by instilling similar values as Donovan did at Florida - fitting, of course, because Donovan was an assistant at Kentucky when Ford was leading the Wildcats to the 1993 Final Four.
``He's somebody who, if I had a bad day or coach (Rick) Pitino got on me, I could go talk to,'' Ford said of his relationship with Donovan. ``Someone I respect, admire, look up to, all those things.''
Their relationship was so tight that when Ford transferred from Missouri and had to sit out a year under NCAA rules, he and Donovan played full-court games of one-on-one to stay in shape.
``He was such an incredible competitor,'' Ford said. ``He was a great influence on me.''
Ole Miss (24-10) reached the NIT semifinals by beating UC-Santa Barbara and fending off Nebraska in overtime, then going on the road to upset Virginia Tech.
``This is a tremendous experience for our kids,'' Rebels coach Andy Kennedy said. ``I played in this event in 1989 and still have very fond memories of playing in the Garden and the experience it was, and I'm hopeful our guys are creating the same lasting memories.''
 

NCAABB Team Pages

Top NCAABB Public Bets

View All: NFL |  NBA |  NCAAF |  NCAAB |  MLB |  NHL

Recent NCAABB Discussions

NCAABB Futures

NCAA BASKETBALL TEAM MENS TOURNAMENT ODDS CURRENT
KENTUCKY 4/1
ARIZONA 8/1
DUKE 10/1
WISCONSIN 12/1
KANSAS 14/1
FLORIDA 14/1
NORTH CAROLINA 16/1
VILLANOVA 25/1
WICHITA STATE 28/1
LOUISVILLE 28/1
View All

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Contact Us | Advertising | 888-99-SPREAD

THIS IS NOT A GAMBLING SITE – If you think you have a gambling problem click here.

Disclaimer: This site is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Individual users are responsible for the laws regarding accessing gambling information from their jurisdictions. Many countries around the world prohibit gambling, please check the laws in your location. Any use of this information that may violate any federal, state, local or international law is strictly prohibited.

Copyright: The information contained on TheSpread.com website is protected by international copyright and may not be reproduced, or redistributed in any way without expressed written consent.

About: TheSpread.com is the largest sports betting news site in the United States. We provide point spread news, odds, statistics and information to over 199 countries around the world each year. Our coverage includes all North American College and Professional Sports as well as entertainment, political and proposition wagering news.

©1999-2013 TheSpread.com