After the conclusion of March Madness, college sports fans tend to find themselves in a bit of a wasteland without any big events to watch. This weekend brings a break from the sports wasteland for Ohio State fans. The most attention grabbing thing for OSU fans this weekend is of course the annual spring football game. This game is an annual event that is always looked forward to by Buckeye fans anxious for a sneak preview of what the fall will bring. This year’s game brings even more excitement as it represents the ‘debut’ of new coach Urban Meyer and the start of a new era of OSU football, one that will hopefully be marked by success that will help fans quickly put the memories of this past season behind them.
While most of the attention has been focused on the football team and the spring game, this weekend is a big weekend for several other Ohio State sports teams who are in position to potentially make some big noise on the national stage.
Women’s Gymnastics Go For a NCAA Title
The weekend starts off with the 12th Ohio State women’s gymnastics team traveling to Duluth, Georgia (a city that I previously did not know existed) on Friday for the NCAA Championship. The Buckeyes advanced to their first NCAA championship since 1990 after a second place finish in the Raleigh regional, they were the regional runner up to a Florida squad that is the top seed in this weekend’s championships. Unlike most other NCAA tournaments, women’s gymnastics reseeds heading into the championship round with the regional scores being part of that seeding process. OSU had the second lowest regional score of the teams that advanced, only LSU scored lower, and the Buckeyes enter championship week in the 12 seed, out of 12 teams.
The Buckeyes will compete in the second semifinal on Friday which will start at 6pm. The other teams in OSU’s semifinal are top seeded Florida, 4th seed (and 2011 champion) Alabama, 5th seed Georgia, 8th seed Arkansas, and 9th seed Oregon State; apparently it is the SEC plus OSU semifinal. The only other Big Ten team to advance to this weekend was Nebraska who is the 6th seed and will compete in the first semifinal. The top 3 teams in each semifinal will advance to the finals on Saturday. The top 4 individuals in each event on Friday will advance to Sunday’s individual championships.
Men’s Volleyball Starts Quest to Defend Their Title
After winning their first national championship last season, the 8th ranked Ohio State men’s volleyball team has their sights set on defending their title. This past weekend OSU helped that cause by defeating conference foe IPFW 3-1 to earn their sixth straight MIVA conference regular season title. On Sunday OSU traveled to Norfolk, VA for an out-of-conference matchup against George Mason which the Buckeyes swept 3-0 to finish their season with a 19-8 record and on a 7 game winning streak.
Only four teams make the NCAA men’s basketball tournament with 3 of those spots going to winners of the three largest conferences which have automatic bids and the last spot being at large spot. This structure makes it very important for OSU to win the MIVA tournament if they want a chance at a second straight national title. OSU helped their cause by earning the top spot in the MIVA conference tournament that starts this weekend. The number one spot comes with a bye so the Buckeyes will not play until Wednesday when they will host the winner of the quarterfinal game between Ball State and Grand Canyon.
The Other Game in The Shoe
The football team will not be the only Ohio State squad taking to the field in Ohio Stadium on Saturday. The 20th ranked OSU men’s lacrosse team will start the day off at 11am when they host 32 ranked Air Force in what is being billed as the ‘the Showdown in the Shoe.’ The Buckeyes have a 6-6 record this season but have really struggled at home, posting a 2-5 record in Columbus.
This will be the second game in a row that Ohio State will play in a football stadium as last weekend saw the Buckeyes defeat Michigan in the first matchup ever between the two school, Michigan just moved to varsity status. The Buckeyes scored the first goal of the game and never trailed as the won what was dubbed ‘the Battle in the Big House’, which also sounds like a bad prison movie.
Men’s Gymnastics Also in the NCAA Championships
The 7th ranked OSU men’s gymnastics team received an invite to the NCAA Men’s Gymnastics National Qualifier (an overly fancy way of saying NCAA semifinals) which will be hosted by Oklahoma on Friday. Just as was the case with the women’s tournament, the men’s semifinals are split into two sessions with the top three teams from each session advancing to the NCAA Finals which will take place on Saturday and Sunday. The Buckeyes will compete in the first qualifying session on Friday which starts at 3pm. OSU is the 7th seed and will compete along with 2nd seed Penn State, 3rd seed Stanford, 6th seed Michigan, 10th seed Nebraska, and 11th seed Iowa. Illinois and Minnesota are the 4th and 5th seeds, respectively, and will compete in the second semifinal session. With 7 of the 12 teams being from the Big Ten, it looks like this weekend’s action will bear a strong resemblance to a Big Ten tournament.