MILWAUKEE – Game time is rapidly approaching. Today feels special. Eager to see what happens, as I’m sure all of you are. And I’m even wearing a skirt today. Not sure what’s gotten into me.
But days like these are why March is special. And the Yellow Jackets are playing good enough basketball to make you think maybe, just maybe they can get past No. 2 seeded Ohio State.
The odds makers don’t think so, of course. They have the Buckeyes favored by 6 ½, I’m told. But hey, I’m sure they didn’t have Northern Iowa over Kansas either, and after that game last night, you figure, truly, every team in this field has to understand now that you strap up and play, and either team has a shot to win. This one-and-done thing is no-fooling. And it’s interesting as, well, heck.
While we wait it out, I’ll throw out this little factoid. Ohio State is 26-0 this year in games in which it held the lead with five minutes to play.
The Buckeyes are steady and have a great leader in Evan Turner. If there’s any way Tech can rattle him like the Jackets did James Anderson, Ohio State might not have the lead with five minutes to go. But it’s hard to see that happening from such a level-headed quality leader.
From what the Ohio State media said yesterday, Turner was as frustrated Friday night as he’s been all season (while going 2-for-13), with all the physical riff-raff he was taking from UC Santa Barbara. But I see Tech playing him more straight up, going on speed and athletic ability. And I can’t see Turner having back-to-back wobbly games.
So if Tech is to win today, you figure it’s got to be because the Yellow Jackets outplayed Ohio State even when the Buckeyes were good. Know what I mean? And the way the Yellow Jackets came out against Oklahoma State, they were playing as well as we’ve seen them all year. No turnovers for the first seven minutes. Unbelievable from the free throw line.
It’s hard to imagine they’d repeat that 24-for-25 from the line, but you know they’ll be confident from the stripe. They have a big size advantage inside once again, and we didn’t see Derrick Favors go off Friday night like he did in the ACC tournament. Could today be the day? We shall see.
Peacock, Oliver: threes anyone?
You have probably noticed Zachery Peacock has been a little chilly from the floor lately. The senior forward is 2-for-his-last-17 field goal attempts dating back to the Maryland game in the ACC quarterfinals.
(He did have one basket erased against Oklahoma State in the aftermath of a loose ball scramble when Paul Hewitt called a timeout. It ended up being the right call, as Tech got the shot clock reset to 34 seconds, ran more time off the clock and came away with two points on Iman Shumpert free throws anyway.)
Peacock is 0-for-his-last 5 from 3-point range, including 0-for-3 from 3-point range against Oklahoma State, and as I recall he had some really good, open looks.
He made a 15-foot baseline jumper and a short range jumper against the Cowboys, and went 4-for-4 from the free throw line. But couldn’t it make a big difference for Tech today, if Peacock got back to his old ways and hit a couple of those big shots, especially with OSU’s defense packing in on Favors and Gani Lawal?
It would work just as well to see Brian Oliver do the same. He’s 0-for-5 from 3-point range since the Maryland game. He said defenses are playing him out on the 3-point line much tougher than earlier in the season, and he’s adjusted by showing more a mid-range game. That works well too, but his strength is the deep ball, and it could help Tech in a big way today.
Enjoy the game today. This is what it’s all about.