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UNC 66, Ohio State 55

Occasionally, I feel the Big Ten is not getting a fair shake in the made-for-ESPN Challenge. November is a cruel month for basketball; many of the games are ugly, and more than one future champion has put on some god-awful displays. Chad's description of the Maryland-UCLA game is pretty common for this point of the sason:

Despite the best efforts of Dick Vitale (who was, thank God, suffering from a cold and thus not in full voice) to make it sound like a brilliant defensive display, it was pretty clear that what was on display was rust, not defense. Passes sailed over the heads of their intended receivers, or bounced off of legs, feet, and hands, or just plain bounced off into empty space as guys didn't cut when or where they were supposed to. There were a lot of contested shots, but also a lot of flat-out bricks.

Of course, what do you expect from November basketball?

So considering their postseason success, perhaps the Big Ten wouldn't be the perpetual runner-up (30-56 after Penn State's victory over Virginia Tech) were this series to occur in February. My ACC bias doesn't allow me to consider that possibility ver often, though.

Tonight's matchup was a typical November affair. When Ohio State misses seventeen straight shots late in the second half and can still pull within six, it's not two teams at the top of their form. UNC made a more than a few sloppy passes, and down the stretch Hansbrough uncharacteristically missed three consecutive free throws. With play like that, it's not such a surprise that two teams averaging more than 1.10 PPP managed 0.89 and 0.76, respectively.

There were bright points; Ellington and Thompson both had the type of games the team will need from them going forward. Frasor, though absolutely cold from the floor - all his shots were from behind the arc and none of them fell - was a force on defense, at one point fighting through multiple picks from big men on the perimeter to get an incredible block late as OSU was mounting a comeback. All in all, it was a respectable November game.

Of course, next comes December and Kentucky. (As well as ESPN to sully one of my favorite games of the year. Just great.)