OSU heads to NOLA the hard way

BOSTON -- With a staff member steadying him, Thad Matta carefully and slowly stepped up the rungs of the ladder, taking extra care with his left foot, the one rendered numb and useless by back surgery gone awry.

The climb to snip the last piece of net was not easy for the Ohio State coach, but eventually Matta got there.

The same could be said for his team.

A group that everyone figured would ride Easy Street to the Final Four after Jared Sullinger announced he was returning for his sophomore season, instead took a long detour on the Highway to Hell, exasperating their coach so much that in late February he tossed them all out of practice.

But ladders are built with steps for a reason: to allow people to slowly reach heights they'd not otherwise realize.

For Dana O'Neil's full story from Ohio State's 77-70 win over Syracuse, click here.