And so what started with a few exhibiton games games back in March has now come to an end. The OU Bobcats have won the MAC Tournament and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. They played an excellent game last night against Akron, and came up with the plays they needed to win the game.
For example, with about 5:30 left it was a 2 point game, and on 2 straight possessions Cooper picked up steals, once leading to a layup and once leading to a 3, and OU was up 7 with 4:19 left. Akron rallied back, and was down 1 with less than 90 seconds left, OU came out big again, this time with stops. Akron had a late possession, now down 3, and OU did what I think is smart, which is to foul before the team can even get near the 3-point line.
Now, I have been carrying on about DJ Cooper over the past week or so because I feel he is the most overrated player in the MAC. I used facts, too. Anyway, to give him his due, he had a very nice game last night. Cooper had 23 points on 50% shooting, 4 of 7 from 3, with 6 assists and 4 steals on top of 2 turnovers, and two of the steals were in critical times. He won the tournament MVP and probably deserved it.
To my point, however, last night, Abreu had 19 points and he only took 5 field goal attempts. He made them all, including 3 treys, shooting 6 of 7 from the line. He added 7 assists. That's making very good use of your possessions. He did have 5 turnovers and two of them coming down the stretch, but still, Abreu had a pretty good night and I'd take him over Cooper this year.
And so, the Bobcats made the plays in the final minutes and Akron did not, and OU heads to the NCAA. Akron was a 14 in the latest projections, and I'd expect Ohio to end up in about the same spot. (Update: Lunardi has then as a #13 seed).
Akron--dominant for most of the season, was only 3-4 coming home (after the Bracket Buster) and two of those four losses were to Ohio. They head to the NIT.
One last note. Groce has to become a hot commodity and that would only get higher if they pulled an upset in the tourney. He was the first name mentioned for the Nebraska job (which would be an interesting coincidence because he would be the second OU coach to go to Lincoln to try and make his way in the world--Danny Nee was the first) and it could be for others. The Huskers are supposedly opening up the checkbook for basketball now that they are in the Big 10, so it could actually be a pretty good opportunity.
It would not surprise me if he was not back when we start this all next year. That would become a pretty plum job, because OU was 22-7 this year with no seniors producing at all. Next year's team will feature 5 seniors and start to look pretty dangerous.