March Madness is officially over. The 2007 college basketball season wrapped up on Monday night with the Florida Gators defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes to win the national championship.
Junior Joakim Noah and the Gators took a bite out of Greg Oden and the Buckeyes, winning 84-75 after leading for the majority of the game. Florida is the first school in 15 years to win the tournament in two consecutive years, and the first ever to do it with the same five starting players. Florida also became the first school in history to win men's basketball and football championships in the same season, having also beaten Ohio State in the BCS national championship game.
On the way to the championship game, the top-ranked Gators knocked out the UCLA Bruins last Saturday, winning their Final Four matchup 76-66. That wasn't much of a surprise, as most people will admit that Florida was a stronger team. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes were busy eliminating the Georgetown Hoyas, who I had picked to win the entire tournament. Ohio State defeated Georgetown 67-60.
The stage was set for an exciting Monday night championship matchup between the Gators, who were hungry for a repeat, and the surging Buckeyes. Yet the game that aired on CBS was an oddly docile one. The most notable feature of the game was Ohio State's abysmal shooting from three-point range, where they hit only four of their 23 attempts. The Gators were able to snag 11 more rebounds than Ohio State but Noah, their marquee player, was last in scoring among Florida's starters with only eight points. Oden, the Buckeyes' phenomenal freshman, had a heroic 25-point, 12-rebound performance. However, Oden's points were not enough and Ohio State was never really able to challenge the reigning champs, as the final score will attest. I even noticed after the game that some of Florida's players seemed bored with the game they had just won. Where's George Mason when you need them?
Now that the season is officially in the books, several outstanding young players will consider the NBA. At 19 years old and 7'0", Oden is a premier defensive player and would be selected very early. Despite Texas's early exit from the tournament, freshman Kevin Durant wowed a lot of scouts this season and would also be an early pick. Others include Noah, UNC sophomore Tyler Hansbrough, Texas A&M senior Acie Law IV, and Georgetown juniors Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green. All have the potential to be superstars, but which ones will stay in school and try to take the trophy from Florida? Only time will tell.