That's what the Ohio State University and the entire sporting world, with the exception of diehard Gator lovers and their recently embarked bandwagon brethren across the land, are thinking after the University of Florida beat down the OSU 84-75 last night to capture the men's NCAA basketball national championship. It's OSU's second consecutive national championship game defeat to Florida, this year.
If you're thinking it's deja vu all over again, you're right. The Gators came into the championship game as the defending NCAA champs -- and went out the same way. Their hard-fought but decisive victory marked the first back-to-back basketball championships by any Division I men's team since Duke's 1990-1992 run and only the second repeat since the end of the John Wooden era at UCLA more than 30 years ago.
Even more amazing, Florida did it with the exact same starting five that won last year's title. Consensus is that this is the first time such a feat has ever been accomplished. In the age of big-money NBA contracts and celebrity pimpage, at a time when one or two years of college ball is becoming the norm, that's really saying something about the commitment and camaraderie of the Florida players and the magnetism and dynamic personality of Gator coach Billy Donovan.
The game itself was not that amazing, except as a canvas for the exceptional teamwork of Florida and the exceptional potential of Buckeye big man Greg Oden. By the end of the first half, Florida had opened up a double-digit lead thanks to lights-out shooting by Lee Humphrey, the all-time NCAA tournament three-point leader, Taurean Green, and Corey Brewer, and they were never really threatened the rest of the game. Superior depth and experience were the difference, with the OSU guards showing the type of inconsistency (4-23 three-point shooting) that many thought would catch up to them much earlier in the bracket.
This year the Ohio State University has been Gator-bait in two national championship games. With apologies to McRib, CHOMP!. Photo from somewhere off the Internet.
In the second half, OSU made a couple of quasi-runs at the Gators, but never got closer than six points. Whenever it seemed that Ohio State might be on the verge of closing the gap, a Florida player -- pick a player, any player (Florida had four players who scored in double digits and seven players who logged more than 10 minutes of game time) -- stemmed the tide with a killer three, a hustle put-back, or a scrappy rebound. At every turn, at every critical moment of the game, it was Florida that prevailed.
And well they should have. As with the title game for the NCAA Division I football championship, Florida proved itself to be the best team in the country and among the greatest teams of all time. Last night's game also proved the NCAA powers that be know what they are doing, whether its making tournament selections or deciding on BCS matchups.