2007 NCAA Tournament Championship Game Preview
#1 Ohio State vs. #1 Florida @ 9:21 p.m. (ET)
Its déjà vu for sports fans everywhere. After meeting in the BCS Championship game to crown a national champ in football, Ohio State and Florida will battle it out again for a national title, this time the weapon of choice will be hoops rather than pigskin. For the Gators it’s a chance to become the first repeat champs since Duke in the early 90’s. For the Buckeyes it’s a shot at redemption after being blown out by Florida 86-60 in front of a national audience back in December. Whatever the motivation for winning may be, one thing is for sure, this game has the potential to be one of the best national championship games of the last 20 years.
Oden is the most impact defensive player in the country, but he has been getting into foul trouble throughout the NCAA Tournament. He picked up two quick fouls guarding Roy Hibbert of Georgetown in the Final Four and was relegated to the bench for much of the first half. Now Hibbert is a fantastic post player, but he’s only one man. Oden will be contending with two players who are very talented, and big enough to hold their own against the 7-footer. Noah and Horford were dominant in Florida’s win over Ohio State in late December, of course to be fair to Oden he had not been playing very long at that point.
What it comes down to is this: Oden is primarily going to be on his own inside against Noah and Horford. The Buckeyes don’t have anyone else down low who can contend with Florida’s big men. With the numbers against him, there is a very real possibility that Oden will have to once again sit with foul trouble early on. Florida has the edge here, and Ohio State is going to have to hope that Oden plays smart and doesn’t pick up fouls, or the Gators could finish the game off early.
Ohio State, despite sporting youth at some vital positions, is as talented and explosive as they come in regards to perimeter play. Mike Conley Jr. does not play like a freshman; he plays like a future pro point guard. He is a whiz with the ball whether it be setting up teammates with great looks, or weaving his way through defenders for another highlight finish in the lane. Ron Lewis and Jamar Butler can score in bunches, particularly Lewis who has had three 20-point performances in the tournament thus far. There is no better 6th man than Daequan Cook who is deadly from beyond the arc. Of course its hard to leave out Ivan Harris and David Lighty who have contributed solid output for Ohio State as well. The Buckeyes really spread out the court with upwards of four perimeter players on the floor at any given time. What they give up in size with that lineup, they more than make up for with speed and outside shooting. If any number of those players gets hot from the outside it could be a very long night for Florida.
2007 NCAA Championship Game Prediction
Florida proved it is good enough to repeat as national champs by running away from a very good, and very tough defensive team in UCLA in the Final Four. The Gators are simply too well-rounded both inside and outside, and have too much experience to let themselves lose this game. Ohio State has had too many close calls between an overtime win over Xavier and a narrow escape from Tennessee. If Oden gets in foul trouble the Buckeyes are finished as Noah and Horford will go to town inside. On top of that, Florida has more than enough talent to match up with the waves of scorers Ohio State can send from the perimeter.
Florida 74 – Ohio State 65
By Joey Whelan, CollegeSports-fans.com Staff Writer