Ohio State Wins vs. Power Programs Bring Elite 8 Success

Bruce Hooley

A trip to the Final Four needs no additional trimmings to rank among the highlights on any college basketball program's resume.

But getting to the sport's signature event via vanquishing hoops royalty does add a second cherry atop the ice cream sundae of satisfaction that comes with an NCAA regional championship.

That's been true for Ohio State numerous times in its eight career trips to the Final Four, led by its Top 3 Elite Eight victories.

3. No. 2 OSU 77, No. 1 Syracuse 70 (2012 East Regional)

The Buckeyes were still burning from losing to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 the year before when they were the Tournament's top overall seed.

This time, OSU made sure not to lose in the semifinals, although when a 12-point halftime lead evaporated into a four-point second-half deficit, things looked bleak.

Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas led a 17-1 spurt that carried the Buckeyes into the regional finals against Syracuse and its vaunted 2-3 zone.

Sullinger went to the bench early with two personals and played only six minutes in the first half. Once he returned, OSU moved to a 10-point lead that Syracuse cut to one, but the big sophomore from Columbus Northland time and against delivered, either in the post or at the line, and the Buckeyes held onl

2. No. 4 Ohio State 77, No. 3 St. John's 74 (1999 South Regional)

The University of Tennessee's Thompson-Boling Arena has never seen so much scarlet in its history.

A building takeover in the Big Orange palace ensued on Sunday afternoon as OSU fans invaded via a five-hour drive down I-75 to scoop up all the tickets Auburn fans no longer needed after the Buckeyes bounced the top-seeded Tigers on Friday night.

This regional final match-up felt very familiar to OSU coach Jim O'Brien and point guard Scoonie Penn, who were accustomed to going up against the Red Storm from their Big East days at Boston College.

It looked like OSU would waltz to its first Final Four since 1968 when it took a 13-point lead with nine minutes left, and still led by nine with 1:30 left, but St. John's roared back. It got within one and had two chances in the last 20 seconds to take the lead, but missed a free throw to waste the first and suffered a turnover on the second when Penn stole the ball from Erick Barkley.

Ohio State's 27-8 record on the heels of an 8-22 finish the season before spoke to Penn's impact as a BC transfer and Redd's maturation from leading the Big Ten in scoring as a freshman.

 Center Ken Johnson was a key force in the Buckeyes' advance with 12 points and seven blocked shots.

Ohio State cut down the nets and O'Brien danced the Dirty Bird -- made popular by the Atlanta Falcons during their just-concluded Super Bowl run -- with his team and his two daughters.

1. OSU 82, Kentucky 81 (1968 Mideast Regional)

Ohio State probably shouldn't have won this game, not because it couldn't hang with mighty Kentucky on its home floor in Lexington, but because the Buckeyes had literally hung up their uniforms already, thinking the season was over.

Coach Fred Taylor's team believed it had finished one game behind Iowa in the Big Ten standings and thus would miss out on an NCAA Tournament berth. But the Hawkeyes lost at home to Michigan, which was 5-8 in the league entering that game, to force a one-game playoff for the Big Ten title.

OSU won that game to get into the Tournament, then struggled to beat East Tennessee State in its NCAA opener.

Legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp said before tipoff he'd never seen a luckier team than OSU. That wasn't a very nice thing to say, but it also wasn't wholly inaccurate, as Rupp was about to find out.

With three seconds left and the Buckeyes down one, All-American center Bill Hosket was set to inbound under the OSU basket. Unfortunately, the player Hosket was supposed to pass toward went the wrong way.

Ohio State was out of timeouts. Hosket had to do something, so he threw in to teammate Dave Sorenson, who banked in the game-winner to hand Kentucky its first home loss of the season and send Ohio State to the Final Four.

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