Ohio State and Syracuse will meet Saturday night (7:05PM tip) for the right to advance to The Final Four next week in New Orleans.
Reaching the regional final was never really in doubt for the Buckeyes. The same can't be said for the Orange.
While the Buckeyes defeated Loyola-Maryland, Gonzaga and Cincinnati without too much difficulty on their journey to the East regional final, Syracuse, who beat beat Kansas State, 75-59 in the round of 32, faced serious scares from both UNC-Asheville and Wisconsin before and after beating the Wildcats.
Prior to the NCAA tournament, Cincinnati ousted Syracuse from the Big East tourney by a final score of 71-68 — the same Bearcats squad that Ohio State just defeated 81-66 in the East semi-final.
These could be signs that this matchup favors Ohio State, but regardless of those previous games, or how each got here, these are two stellar teams and nothing less than a great game should be expected.
Against the zone defense that Syracuse brings, Ohio State's senior guard, William Buford (pictured above alongside Syracuse guard, Scoop Jardine), must play well in order for the Buckeyes to win.
Buford has been inconsistent at times, and has taken a lot of heat from some unforgiving Ohio State fans. He has also often been the catalyst and unsung hero who thanklessly has led this team to victory countless times in his illustrious OSU career. He is just 42 points away from 2,000.
Both teams are solid defensively, so don't be surprised to see a close, low-scoring battle, with the winner being decided in the final seconds, perhaps on a last second buzzer-beater.
That's what makes this tournament so great. We all want our favorite teams to win, but sometimes even in defeat, great moments, great players, and great games are born.
Who doesn't remember that Duke-Kentucky regional final in 1992, when Duke's Christian Laettner hit the game winner for the Blue Devils as time expired?
We all do, and we all won that night, for having been witness to one of the greatest moments in college basketball history.
We can only hope as we watch from the edge of our seats, as the final seconds wane away, that this game will deliver a similar memorable ending — and a Buckeye victory — that we'll talk about for years to come.
This is March Madness after all — Who would want it any other way?
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