SI.com’s Seth Davis ponders the plight of Ohio State, awaiting word on the size of the award due to deposed coach Jim O’Brien after his recent lawsuit victory, and anxiously wondering what sort of penalties the NCAA will impose on the men’s hoops program.
Everyone knows that Thad Matta has signed the nation’s top recruiting class, led by Greg Oden (above). When Oden and the other recruits signed their letters of intent in November, Matta gave them a letter promising he would let them out of their commitments if the Buckeyes were banned from the 2006-07 postseason. If the NCAA handed down another postseason ban now, Ohio State would have to make a Sophie’s choice: Appeal immediately, thereby staying the penalty and allowing itself to play in this year’s NCAA tournament, or throw the current team under the bus and accept the NCAA’s judgment, thereby ensuring it can participate in the postseason next year with Oden & Co. in the lineup. And let’s not forget, all of this comes against the backdrop of Indiana’s interest in Matta as a possible successor to Mike Davis. That interest would be much more mutual if Oden weren’t coming to Ohio State.
Those are, admittedly, some outrageous possibilities, but the way this whole episode has twisted and turned, it seems almost anything is possible. In the end, the most likely outcome is that the NCAA finds that Ohio State committed major infractions and orders the school to vacate the ’99 Final Four. Judge Clark then awards O’Brien his $3.5 million-plus in damages. The Buckeyes play in the NCAA tournament next month. Matta says “No, thank you” to Indiana and Oden prepares to enroll in the fall as planned. O’Brien walks away with his wallet filled but his reputation sullied. And a long, sordid chapter finally comes to a close, with no winners in sight.
G Je’Kel Foster had 17 points tonight in Ohio State’s 79-68 win over Michigan State.
The no. 7 Longhorns survived a scare from the unranked Wildcats, with some frantic action in the final moments. There was a charging call on PJ Tucker with less than a minute left and Texas up by one, followed by a massive block in the lane by LaMarcus Aldridge on the ensuing K-State possession. Daniel Gibson missed the subsequent front end of a one and one, with Lance Harris coming up brickfaced with 20 seconds left.
For Texas, winning their remaining home games against Kansas (Saturday night) and Oklahoma (March 5) is probably what it will take for any hope of a no. 1 seeding (though I can’t recollect the last time a team with 4 losses of 20 points or more was a real can. K-State, however, looks bound for the NIT.
Forward David Noel has 22 points midway through the 2nd half against NC State, with North Carolina leading 60-44.