The first day of the NCAA Tournament is an unofficial holiday that captivates many throughout the nation, whether or not they pay attention to college basketball all season long. But for those skipping work or school in hopes of catching a monumental upset, the afternoon session was a disappointment. The evening brought about Belmont's near miss, but for the most part the favorites took care of business and moved on to the second round. Here are some honors for Thursday's action, and a quick look ahead to what you can expect on Friday.
I'll admit, I usually find myself parked in front of either a computer or the television on days like yesterday, looking to find out where some of the nation's top prep talents will be spending their Saturdays over the next couple of seasons. But has this all gone too far?
Is anyone an Oklahoma State basketball fan?
Well, this game wasn't as close as I'd thought it would be. The issues with talent at the skill positions...wasn't really rectified in the last 365 days by Ohio State. Yes, they got through the Big Ten and to this point, but when you get to this stage you've got to bring something more to the table. Unfortunately, even in what was supposed to be a year in which the Bucks built towards 2008, people are going to look at this result (along with the other results during bowl season) and render a final verdict on Ohio State and the Big Ten.
Almost a spitting image of last year's game, one that saw the Bucks jump on top of Florida with a kick return for a touchdown. Tonight, it was a 65-yard run by Beanie Wells, followed by a Ryan Pretorius field goal to make it 10-0. Panic, no. LSU used some trickery (unbalanced line) to get tight end Richard Dickson into the end zone, following a Colt David field goal, to tie it at 10. From there, it was practically all LSU.
Key play of the half: Ricky Jean-Francois blocking an Ohio State field goal that would have made it 13-10.
One sentence recap of last night's game: Tulsa manhandled Bowling Green. Good thing I gave the Golden Hurricane 30 confidence points in our ESPN Bowl Mania group.
I can sum up Rutgers' 52-30 win over Ball State in the International Bowl in four words: Ray Rice ran wild. 280 yards and four scores...that puts the NCAA career rushing mark within his reach, if he were to return for his senior year. We'll see what he decides in the coming weeks, but his workload at the college level may mean that he heads off to the next level. But you never know.
GMAC Bowl (Mobile, AL)
8 PM EST, ESPN
Bowling Green vs. Tulsa
International Bowl (Toronto)
Noon EST, ESPN2
Rutgers vs. Ball State
A contrast of offensive styles in this one, as the Scarlet Knights will hope to give the Cardinals a heavy dose of junior RB Ray Rice. Rice finished the regular season with 1732 yards on the ground and is a challenge for any defense to stop, much less one that's ranked 99th against the run. While Mike Teel has improved throwing the football this season, and he does have a couple of talented targets in Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt, Rutgers will lean heavily on Rice as they have all year long.
So much for the thought that all the instability surrounding the West Virginia program would lead to their downfall. 349 yards on the ground, and that's with Steve Slaton being lost for the game after his first play. We can all hypothesize on what the loss of DT DeMarcus Granger did to Oklahoma's run defense, but this was more about an explosive offense showing what many thought would happen in the Backyard Brawl against Pitt. Just like USC's Joe McKnight the day prior, Noel Devine must have Mountaineer fans salivating at the possibilities in 2008.
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