This is it, folks. Kansas vs. Ohio State for a chance to play for the National Championship.

This round of BBN LiveBlogs is provided courtesy of The Buckeye Room. If you have a few minutes go over and check out some of their stuff, they helped contribute to the BBN Tournament Pool Winner. Use code "MADNESS2012" to get 20% off.

The LiveBlog will get going at 6 PM EST for the Kentucky-Lousiville game and will be up and running through the Buckeyes game. As usual, we will be joining the other guys from the Buckeye Blogger Network - Men of the Scarlet and GrayOur Honor Defend,The Buckeye Battle CryBuckeye House Callthe Buckeye Blog, and Fox Sports Ohio.
 
 
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Robinson killed OSU back in December.
Drew Thurman (12:09 pm)

It's hard to believe the Buckeye find themselves here. Not only are they playing in the Final Four for a shot at a national title, a place very few thought this team would be just a month ago, but they get a second chance to knock off a Kansas team that defeated them early this season.

In that game back in December, a Sully-less OSU squad battled hard in Allen Fieldhouse, but would ultimately come up short 78-67. William Buford went 8 for 23 in that game (1/6 from three) while Amir Williams and Evan Ravenel got beat up by Robinson, who went for 21 points and seven rebounds. He and the Jayhawks shot a staggering 58% from the floor that afternoon and 52% from behind the three point stripe.

Now nearly four months later they meet again in the Final Four, a place the Jayhawks haven't been since winning the title back in 2008. For Thad Matta, he returns for this first time since 2007 when he and the Buckeyes fell short to Florida in the championship game.

 
 
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Jay LaPrete-US PRESSWIRE (H/T FS Ohio)
Today was the first official practice for the Buckeyes under Urban Meyer. You can get some great coverage here, here, here and here. For those of you looking for a cliff notes version, here ya go (also an interview with Meyer from ESPN at bottom):

*The offensive line configuration is a little different than many would expect. The first team line looks like this: Jack Mewhort at left tackle, Andrew Norwell at left guard, Corey Linsley at center, Marcus Hall at right guard and Reid Fragel at right tackle.

*Philly Brown was running with the second team wideouts surprisingly. Devin Smith, Chris Fields and Evan Spencer comprised the first team.

*Curtis Grant was the first team middle linebacker today, which should make a lot of people happy. Joining him were Etienne Sabino and Ryan Shazier.

*Meyer had good comments to say about both Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton saying that they can definitely throw the ball.

*There was lots of buzz around the tempo of the practice. It was much faster than practices during the Tressel era, and yet Meyer made it clear he wants it to still improve.

*Big quote from Meyer after the practice - "We're in a sprint (to find the playmakers). We're in a journey for the other stuff. We have to develop depth at offensive line. If you don't have it, you don't have it. You have to go recruit it. The immediacy is installation of the offense and identifying guys who can take the ball and do something with it."

 
 
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Ken Kohl (11:10 am)

The Ohio State Women’s Golf Team concluded a visit to Tucson, AZ for the Mountain View Collegiate event held March 23/24. Tying for the low team score of the day with a 284, the Ohio State women’s golf team moved up three slots to conclude the Mountain View Collegiate in third place of 15 schools. Totaling 871 at the par 72, 6,227-yard Mountain View Country Club, the squad’s third round performance and total was its lowest of the season.

Leading the Buckeyes with a career-low total of 5-under 211 was freshman Kendall Prince. (photo right) Finishing in a career-best tie for fourth, the Lake Oswego, Ore., product earned a third round score of 3-under 69 to place in the top 5.

 
 
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Michael Chung (1:34 am)


Most Ohio State fans will say that William Buford has not had the season everyone expected him to have. As a sophomore, Buford could have left for the NBA, and probably would have been a relatively high draft pick.

Last year, his 2-16 shooting was a major contributor in the Buckeyes' inability to advance beyond the Sweet 16. With the Final Four upon us, Buford’s contribution will become more and more important as teams try to take away Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas.

Syracuse played well, but did not account for Lenzelle Smith Jr.’s 18 points. The Buckeyes may have not marched onto the Final Four without his stellar performance, making clutch baskets to thwart any momentum mounted by the Orange. Buckeye nation cannot expect Smith to duplicate this against Kansas, though it would be really nice.

 
 
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Dave Thurman (5:17 pm)

With a couple impressive wins in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight, Ohio State stamped its ticket to New Orleans and the coveted Final Four, which could be one of the most exciting in history.  There are no small schools, Cinderella stories or underdogs in this year's last few days of the Big Dance.  Instead, four schools with great tradition and rabid fans are headed to the Big Easy.  In fact, despite one of the best fan bases in college sports, there is no doubt that the Buckeyes are the team with the least impressive resume from a basketball history standpoint.  Kentucky, Kansas and Louisville have storied hoops programs, possibly only paralleled by North Carolina, UCLA, Indiana and Duke.  This is an incredible foursome, and somewhere in New York CBS executives are high fiving over champagne, because television viewership should be at an all-time high.

Quick Recap:  So how did Ohio State get here?  Well, last week they had to knock off a pesky instate rival in Cincinnati and a high profile juggernaut in Syracuse.  The Bearcats never struck me as a huge threat, because of their lack of length.  I thought Sully would eat Yancey Gates for supper, and he did, outscoring him 23-7, and out rebounding him 11-5.  Although there were some anxious moments in the early moments of the second half, the better team prevailed, despite terrible play from senior William Buford.  Both Deshaun Thomas and Lenzelle Smith provided the extra scoring punch, and Aaron Craft's defense may have been his finest of the season.  In the end, OSU walked off with an 81-66 victory that wasn't quite as easy as the final score would indicate.

 
 
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Malik Zaire was the latest to commit elsewhere.
Drew Thurman (6:36 pm)

Just as my mother use to remind me as a kid, patience is a virtue. It's a virtue, however, that Buckeye fans wish they could go without learning right now on the recruiting scene.

Back in February, fans were on top of the world. Meyer and the staff had resurrected a mediocre 2012 class and finished in the top five recruiting rankings nationally. Not only was Meyer able to flip a handful of players from rival schools, but he made a major splash in the national recruiting scene grabbing prospects from all over the country.

With all that success in such a short period of time, the perception nationally and throughout Buckeye Nation was that Meyer would dominate the 2013 class. That perception quickly grew into wild expectations after Meyer quickly nabbed the three best players in Ohio in Cameron Burrows, Jalin Marshall and Billy Price. Many fans were ready to believe Meyer would not only lock down the Buckeye state from the rest of the Big Ten, but that he and the staff would have their pick of players in this class and moving forward.

While the Buckeyes have added two more excellent players in Eli Woodward and Evan Lisle since then, Buckeye fans have watched a lot of good players in Ohio and in the Midwest heading elsewhere. In fact, a large percentage of those players have gone to Michigan and now Notre Dame. Guys like Jake Butt, Malik Zaire, Dymonte Thomas, Jacob Matuska, Logan Tully-Tillman, Chris Fox, Hunter Bivin, DeVeon Smith, Michael McCray, Colin McGovern, and others are now off the board. The culmination of all those guys committing elsewhere has also started to created some uneasiness as to what is going on in this class. Why does there appear to be a mass exodus of top-tier Ohio talent? Are Meyer and the staff recruiting properly? Were expectations too high after the 2012 class?

While there may be some concerned fans in Buckeye Nation, I want to give you some things to think about. The sky is not falling and the Buckeyes' recruiting outlook is still just fine. Let's take a look...

 
 
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Ken Kohl (10:45 pm)

Saturday’s OSU-Syracuse match-up was probably as toe-to-toe as you’d expect when a #1 seed and #2 seed take the floor. Most of you probably watched the game, and can catch much more detailed recaps here and here. I just have a few stray observations… And again, the photo in the previous post sums up things nicely.
 
The officiating was interesting. It had elements of being tightly called, yet at times had “anticipated” fouls called. At least the officiating appeared to be consistent for both teams throughout the game. Which brings me to OSU’s ability to draw and convert fouls. In the preview, I felt that OSU’s higher FT rate might provide the winning edge, but; wow, 40% of the points from the foul line? And the Buckeyes needed them all.

Which leads me to Ohio State’s offense against Syracuse. We saw a glimpse of it in the first half against Cincinnati, but the
Thomas/Sullinger combination in the high/low post seems to be a valid scheme to attack the 2-3 zone. The entry pass to either post followed by quick shot/dump pass opened good scoring opportunities. This was complimented by occasions when the weak side (Buford/Smith) would work free. This was just well designed and well executed.

 
 
 
 
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Ken Kohl (4:10 pm)

In the Cincinnati preview, I mentioned that Elite Eight sounded pretty good. The Final Four sounds even better. To do that, #2 seed Ohio State (30-7) needs to get past the #1 seed Syracuse Orangemen. (Orangemen, seriously?) On Saturday evening (CBS) the Buckeyes and the Orangemen tangle with the winner to the Final Four. Have I mentioned that recently? Speaking of "Four", let’s take a look at The Four Factors to Winning, courtesy of these guys:

There isn’t much to differentiate these teams, with the exception of OSU’s better FT rate. This might be the edge the Buckeyes need to get out of Boston, and (for entertainment purposes only) OSU is a 3-point favorite. The exact margin of a Buford bomb. Are you listening, Wil?