We've reached the final game in the first round of our Big Ten Champions Tournament, pitting eight of the best teams from the league over the past 15 years. Since these two teams are seeded closely, this might be our closest matchup of the first round.
Get ready to cast your votes for ...
No. 4 seed 2006 Ohio State vs. No. 5 seed 1998 Ohio State
This is our second all-Buckeyes matchup of the first round, which was hard to avoid since Ohio State has won so many Big Ten titles in the past 15 years. This one ought to be interesting.
The 2006 team was close to becoming an all-time great. It went undefeated in the regular season, beating then-No. 2 Michigan in a classic thriller in the finale, and quarterback Troy Smith won the Heisman Trophy. Alas, the Buckeyes flopped in the BCS title game against Florida, losing 41-14 in an embarrassing blowout. Still, that shouldn't totally take away from a terrific season and a strong roster that included Smith, Antonio Pittman, Chris Wells, Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez on offense and Bronko Nagurski winner James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins on defense.
The 1998 team finished the season ranked No. 2 in both polls. Those Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 most of the season before getting upset at home by Michigan State on Nov. 7. They went on to beat Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl. Stars included wideout David Boston and linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer, and the team was led by steady senior quarterback Joe Germaine. That team won every game by double digits except the Michigan State shocker. The 1998 season would prove to be the last real highlight of the John Cooper era.
Vote in our poll for the winner of this matchup. And if you want, drop me a line about why you voted the way you did and break down this game. I'll post the best responses when we announce the victor on Monday.
The Final Four of this tournament will be coming your way next week.