This Saturday our Buckeyes have a challenge. At 3:00 pm EST they meet up with the #2 team in the nation – the UCLA Bruins.
The CBS Sports Classic, now in year 3 is again bringing together the nation’s most exciting and prominent college basketball teams: Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio State, and UCLA for a thrilling showcase. Kentucky will go up against North Carolina, and the Buckeyes – well – not to repeat what I have already addressed meet up with the Bruins. In last years CBS Sports Classic, played in Brooklyn, the Buckeyes surprised Kentucky with a 74-67 victory. This year the David verses Goliath scenario is playing out again.
Let’s take a look:
The Buckeyes are coming off a win against an injury ridden Connecticut team 64-60 in Columbus. The intent certainly isn’t to lessen the win by pointing out that Connecticut has lost two essential players in their plans for this season … a win is a win. And the Buckeyes who are now 8-2 with losses against Virginia and Florida Atlantic … could have “very” well won the one against Virginia, a nationally ranked team, and they should NOT have lost the one to Florida Atlantic. But things happen, clearly, for a reason … who knows what that reason is or was?
The Buckeyes are led by Junior Forward Jae’Sean Tate, averaging 13.9 points per game. Trevor Thompson, 7 foot Center, also a Junior, leads in snatching the boards with 8.6 per game. And JaQuan Lyle, a Sophomore Guard, has 5.5 assists per game.
Senior Marc Loving last week against the Huskies of Connecticut, with nine points, has become the 53rd player in Buckeyes history to reach 1,000 career points. He is the 12th player to do so in the Thad Matta reign.
JaQuan Lyle also had a notable moment during the Connecticut game. He scored his 500th point (now with 504) and has reached 200 career assists.
Trevor Thompson is 13 points shy of 500 career points.
Now on the menu is a much stronger opponent.
The UCLA Bruins are 11-0. They are led by TJ Leaf, Freshman Forward, who is averaging 18.3 points per game. Junior Center, 7 footer Thomas Welsh is snagging 9.6 boards per game. And freshmen sensation Lonzo Ball has 8.6 assists per game.
The Bruins are hardly anything to sneeze at. They are averaging 97.9 points per game. This ranks them #1 in Division I Basketball. The Buckeyes – in comparison are averaging 74.6 points per game – which slides them in at 123rd nationally.
We can go on and on about the talent at UCLA. We can speak of the phenomenal skills of Lonzo Ball, or the sweet drop of TJ Leaf. But one player hardly mentioned in the highs of a game’s summary is Isaac Hamilton, the Senior Guard out of LA. He is averaging 17.3 points per game, and has 3.4 assists per game. He is that sneak attack that comes off the radar that isn’t noticed until it’s over. Mr. Hamilton is indeed a talent worthy of a “real” close look in prepping for this game. He will add to the pain if you bypass him.
In UCLA’s 11 wins they have beaten some fantastic teams. On November 17th they beat-up on a good San Diego team 88-68. On November 20th another team that will be in the final tally of teams for March Madness, Long Beach State, was introduced to the Bruins, losing to them 114-77. On December 3rd Kentucky took the whipping 97-92. And on December 10th TTUN had their comeuppance as UCLA smacked their road-kill eaten heathen selves with a 102-84 win.
UCLA is good.
I would love to say the Buckeyes will win this one. I would love to say it will be the repeated joy of last year when they surprised Kentucky. I would love to say if you have some extra cash spurn the odds and go Scarlet and Gray. I would love to say the Buckeyes will be 9-2 after this Saturday.
But I am a realist, if noting else. And I must admit I do not look for this coming Saturday to be an optimistic moment for the Buckeyes Men’s Basketball Program. With that said I will simply go off the grid and babble what I would otherwise term as “nonsense”. Our Buckeyes will pull off another CBS Sports Classic stunner with an 79-76 win.
Is that brave – or just silly? Let’s just lean back and wait to see what happens…..