Buckeyes loose, ready for NCAA tournament
COLUMBUS — Evan Turner sat down and, just like a lot of kids would if given the chance to play with a live microphone, began to make a rhythm sound with his mouth while pretending he was performing in concert.
“This is a March Madness piece,” he said, laughing.
Teammate David Lighty scoffed at the impromptu — and off-key — rendition: “His beat was terrible.”
That’s how No. 5 Ohio State began a news conference on Wednesday about all the pressures and hype surrounding the NCAA tournament and the Buckeyes’ first-round date with UC Santa Barbara in Milwaukee at 9:30 on Friday night.
For the record, the Buckeyes appear to be anything but uptight and nervous.
They addressed several serious topics with the silliness expected of underclassmen who are now officially on spring break.
At the same time, they spoke like old hands about this NCAA stuff.
“We’re more relaxed, we’re a very experienced team,” guard Jon Diebler said. “Coach (Thad Matta) always says, ’Act like you’ve been there.’ Well, we have been there. We haven’t won a tournament game yet, but we know what to expect now.”
These are good days to be a Buckeye. Second-seeded Ohio State (27-7) has won 15 of its last 17 games, including the last seven, following up a share of the Big Ten title by winning the conference tournament with two dramatic victories and then a blowout in the finals over Minnesota.
Turner, the top player in the conference and a favorite to be the national player of the year, is on one of Sports Illustrated’s regional covers this week. He even had his name dropped by a particularly big college basketball fan.
“It is good to be here in the Buckeye State. Congratulations on winning the Big Ten championship,” President Barack Obama said before a speech on health care on Monday in Strongsville, Ohio.