Saturday, March 22, 2008
New tourney, same disappointing result for OSU
By Mechelle Voepel Special to ESPN.com
OSU was upset in the first round for the second straight season, this time to 11th-seeded Florida State.
After the 2002 season, Jim Foster left Vanderbilt to take over an Ohio State program that seemed very ready to make some big moves.
Well the Buckeyes have done fine in the regular season under Foster, but not so well in the NCAA tournament. Saturday's 60-49 loss to 11th-seeded Florida State marked the fifth time in Foster's six seasons in Columbus that the Buckeyes have lost to a lower-seeded team.
This time it was as a No. 6 seed falling to a No. 11 seed. The fact that Florida State -- which went 7-7 in the ACC -- was such a surprise even getting an at-large bid is what makes this loss stand out all the more uncomfortably for Ohio State.
It's a nice win for the ACC, which almost got another upset on Saturday with 10th-seeded Georgia Tech pushing 7-seed Iowa State before falling 58-55. The Seminoles have been through a difficult season, and this victory is particularly gratifying for FSU coach Sue Semrau.
For Ohio State fans, though, this is getting old.
The biggest disappointment among the Buckeyes' recent NCAA losses was in 2006, when Ohio State was a No. 1 seed and was upset in the second round by eighth-seeded Boston College. Last year, the No. 4-seed Buckeyes lost in the first round to 13th-seeded Marist.
Three straight NCAA losses for Ohio State is not just bad news for the Buckeyes. It's also not a good reflection on the Big Ten. The Buckeyes tied Iowa for the regular-season title this season before being upset by Illinois in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
Ohio State did not live up to its NCAA seed in 2005, either, but that season's loss wasn't much of an upset. The Buckeyes were the No. 2 seed and fell to third-seeded Rutgers in the Sweet 16. In 2003, Foster's first season with Ohio State, the Buckeyes were a No. 4 seed and lost in the second round to 5-seed Louisiana Tech, which was then led by future WNBA star Cheryl Ford.
Since Foster took over at Ohio State, the only season in which the Buckeyes have lost to a higher-seeded team was in 2004, when they were a No. 6 and fell to No. 3 Boston College in the second round.
Upsets do happen to programs, no doubt. But the upset bug biting the Buckeyes for a third year in a row is really rather alarming.
What does this it mean? Well, this much is obvious: Ohio State's postseason preparation isn't working. It isn't likely that a veteran coach such as Foster is ill-prepared or doesn't game-plan well. No, this seems like a question of motivation -- in which case his players have to take a lot of the responsibility.
Mechelle Voepel of The Kansas City Star is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.