Ohio State Basketball: NCAA Championships That Got Away

Ohio State Basketball: NCAA Championships That Got Away

Basketball

Ohio State Basketball: NCAA Championships That Got Away


Despite being known as a football school, Ohio Sate has a rather illustrious history in basketball too. However, only one time have the Buckeyes cut down the nets. Here are some of the NCAA Championships that got away.


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Ohio State Basketball: NCAA Championships That Got Away

Ohio State has had some memorable runs through the NCAA tournament over the years, and can point to eleven Final Fours as a reason why its not just a football school.

There has been ample opportunity to win more than just the one national championship the program has to its credit, and here are some that truly went right through the old Scarlet and Gray fingers.

2011

Of all the Buckeye teams Thad Matta took to the NCAA tournament, the 2011 version may have been his best overall team. That year, Ohio State had it all.

The inside game was in good shape with Jared Sullinger, the defense was rock solid with role players, there was a tough as nails point guard in Aaron Craft, and one of the best outside shooters in the history of the Big Ten could add balance on the floor in the person of Jon Diebler.

The Buckeyes steam-rolled their way through the regular season — winning the Big Ten regular season and tournament title, and compiled a 34-3 overall record (16-2 in the Big Ten). The average margin of victory was a stunning 30.5 points, and it entered the NCAA tournament that year as the overall No. 1 seed in the entire field.

But Ohio State picked the wrong day to have a bad game when it ran into a No. 4 seeded Kentucky team that hadn’t quite lived up to expectations, but who was loaded with talent. Largely because of a poor shooting night, the game was nip and tuck all the way, and with Ohio State trailing by three, Diebler managed to hit a three pointer to tie the game at 60 each with just 21 seconds left.

That then set the stage for Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight to hit a fifteen foot jumper with 5 seconds left to put Big Blue up 62-60. Ohio State’s last attempt to win it clanged off the rim, and one of the best teams in OSU history went home way too early.

2007

If the 2011 team was Matta’s best, the 2006-07 team was certainly the most talented. You had Greg Oden underneath, Mike Conley, Jr. running the point, David Lighty being a swiss army knife, and the veterans like Ron Lewis and Ivan Harris being great compliments to a star-studded recruiting class.

The season was a dream one as the Buckeyes won both the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles — finishing the season 35-4 overall. It would be a No. 1 seed when the brackets were announced for the NCAA tournament.

There were some close calls in the run that year, but Ohio State was able to survive and advance against Xavier in overtime, and then again against Tennessee when it rallied from twenty points down to go onto the Regional Final.

OSU had little trouble against Memphis and then Georgetown in the Final Four, but ran into a buzz-saw when it played the Florida Gators in the national championship game.

It was poor shooting and defense that did the Buckeyes in — going just 4 of 23 from beyond the arc — and giving up over 55% from 3-point range on the other end.

The talent on the team was probably better slightly than what Florida had, but it didn’t all come together when it mattered the most.

1961

The nucleus of the Ohio State program from 1960-1963 was probably one of the best in the history of college basketball, yet they aren’t talked about as much as you would think.

That’s because — despite going to the national championship game three straight years — the Buckeyes only one walked away with the title once in 1960 (which still remains the only national title in program history).

Those teams had two future NBA Hall of Famers in Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek along with two future NBA players with Mel Nowell and Larry Siegfried.

Ohio State came into the title game against Cincinnati unbeaten at 27-0 and ranked No. 1., but the Bearcats had a plan to slow the clock (there was no shot clock at the time) and worked it to perfection. The game went into overtime, and Cincy prevailed 70-65.

It is hands down the most talented team not to win a national title in OSU history, and maybe even the history of the NCAA.

1962

Ohio State and Cincinnati would meet again the following year with another national title on the line. The Buckeyes still had the same core of players and had just a one-point loss to Wisconsin in an otherwise perfect season.

Both teams were extremely talented, but a little known fact is that Jerry Lucas injured his knee in the semifinal matchup with Wake Forest and was severely limited in his ability in the championship game.

Without a healthy and effective Lucas, Cincinnati prevailed again 71-59, this time with less drama, and Ohio State was left to wonder again what could have been.

2012

Did Matta have the program rolling from 2006-2013 or what? In 2012, Ohio State again won a share of the regular season Big Ten title and came into the tourney as a No. 2 seed, but playing well enough to win the whole deal.

It had All-American Jared Sullinger back at center, along with Aaron Craft, Deshaun Thomas and William Buford out on the wings. The regular season was a solid one with an overall record of 28-7, with some extremely close losses.

OSU rolled through the tournament until a regional final matchup with No. 1 seed Syracuse and was able to outlast the Orange 77-70 to reach the Final Four again. There it ran into Kansas.

Despite having the lead for most of the game — and late — the Jayhawks came from behind and stole it at the end with two clutch free throws and a 64-62 win. Kansas led for only 3:48 of the entire contest.

Had OSU been able to hang on, it would have needed to beat a very good Kentucky team, but that Buckeye team would have matched up pretty well across the board with its depth and athleticism, especially in the post.

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