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Ohio State’s unbeaten season is history, but plenty of pressure remains

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Ohio State’s loss Saturday to Wisconsin raised two questions:

  1. Who will be the new No. 1 team?
  2. Is losing a game before the NCAA tournament a good thing?

We’ll learn the answer to question 1 in a few hours. Question 2, however, won’t be answered – if at all – until March.

The Buckeyes entered the game 24-0. Talk had already begun of an unbeaten season and whether a loss would “help” the Buckeyes regain their focus. Made for an interesting read by Pete Thamel of the New York Times.

“We don’t like to lose,” Ohio State freshman Jared Sullinger told Thamel. “In the long run, it helps you out. You know what it feels like to lose, and you know that you don’t want to feel that feeling again.”

Sullinger’s coach, Thad Matta, says going unbeaten wasn’t a priority, or even a goal.

“I didn’t care about being undefeated,” Matta told Thamel. “I’m more consumed with us just playing our best basketball. Doing this as long as I have, it’s such a long season. This was a heck of a game today. It is what it is. There hasn’t been anyone to do it since [Indiana] 1976.”

You’ll hear people talk Monday about how Ohio State should be relieved. Now the Buckeyes won’t be distracted or feel any additional pressure of trying to be the first team since ’76 Indiana to finish a season unbeaten. Makes the rest of the season a breeze, right?

Right.

Does this sound easy? Ohio State’s remaining Big Ten matchups include a trip to Purdue and home games vs. Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin. Then the Buckeyes have the Big Ten tournament, and then will try to win six straight NCAA tournament games.

No pressure there. And it’s not like only having one loss makes it any easier.

Illinois was 29-0 when Ohio State pulled off the upset in the team’s regular season finale. Illini assistant Jay Price told Thamel that the loss “took pressure off our guys, and we rolled through the Big 10 tournament.” But if the goal is to win a national title, losing one game didn’t help Illinois because it lost to UNC in the final.

In fact, since ’76 Indiana, no team has won the NCAA tournament with only one loss. Nineteen teams, the most recent of which was ’08 Memphis, have tried.  If all the pressure of an unbeaten season was gone, one of those teams would’ve won, right? Ohio State (and Kansas and SDSU) should probably hurry up and lose another game or else the pressure of being the first team since ’74 N.C. State to win it all with just one loss will build and build until it becomes unbearable.

Going unbeaten isn’t impossible. Neither is cutting down the nets with only one loss. Just because neither have happened recently doesn’t make them a thing of the past, it just makes them coincidences. If someone was good enough to go unbeaten, they would, pressure be damned. Until then, save the “good loss” arguments.

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Cal and San Diego State set three-game series

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 10:  Jarmal Reid #32 of the Oregon State Beavers tries to steal the ball from Ivan Rabb #1 of the California Golden Bears during a quarterfinal game of the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 10, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. California won 76-68.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Cal and San Diego State played last season in the Las Vegas Invitational and decided to play more often.

According to multiple reports, the two teams will play each other the next three seasons, starting with a neutral-court matchup in Sacramento on Nov. 21. The game in Sacramento will be unique in a couple of ways, as it will be the first college basketball game in the Sacramento Kings’ brand-new home arena. It will also be Cal’s first game in Sacramento since 1947.

After the Sacramento game during the 2016-17 season, San Diego State will host the Golden Bears the next season and Cal will host the Aztecs the following year to close out the three-game deal.

With both Cal and San Diego State returning plenty of talent from last season, this season’s contest should be one of the more intriguing non-conference games between schools out west and it should be fun for the players as they get to take the floor in a new NBA arena.

Report: Creighton’s Zach Hanson to miss a few months following knee surgery

OMAHA, NE - MARCH 3: Zach Hanson #40 of the Creighton Bluejays fights for position with Daniel Ochefu #23 of the Villanova Wildcats  during their game at CenturyLink Center March 3, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska.   (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Creighton will be without a key big man for the start of practice as senior Zach Hanson will be out after having knee surgery.

According to a report from Marjie Ducey of the Omaha World-Herald, the 6-foot-9 Hanson will likely be out for eight to 12 weeks. Creighton head coach Greg McDermott told Ducey that Hanson will hopefully be available when Creighton opens its regular season in November.

As a junior, Hanson was a key rotation big man for the Bluejays as he put up 6.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, making one start on the season. As McDermott noted in Ducey’s story, he’s not concerned about Hanson missing practice time from a learning curve standpoint but he is a bit worried about his conditioning. Before the knee surgery, Hanson was also nursing some ankle injuries that he was dealing with during the season, so he hasn’t had a great chance to get in proper condition.

This loss will definitely hurt Creighton as they have a ton of backcourt pieces for next season, but not as many in the front court. Hanson’s an experienced player who will help once he returns but it will something worth monitoring to see what kind of condition he’s in during the early season.

VIDEO: Mixtape of the Under Armour Association

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Now that summer basketball is nearly finished, a lot of good mixtapes are beginning to pop up from this spring and summer’s action.

Ball is Life just dropped some highlights from all of the Under Armour Association events from this spring and summer in one mixtape and it’s loaded with high-level players making tremendous plays.

Some of the top Class of 2017 prospects included in the video include Trevon Duval, Kris Wilkes, Ira Lee, M.J. Walker and North Carolina commit Jalek Felton.

Judge to review surveillance video in Appling gun case

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 30:  Keith Appling #11 of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Connecticut Huskies during the East Regional Final of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 30, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) A Michigan judge will review surveillance footage from the night former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling was arrested outside a strip club on weapons and drug charges.

Appling’s defense attorney presented the footage at Friday’s preliminary examination. It includes security videos from the Pantheon Club parking lot and video from police dashboard cameras.

The hearing was adjourned until Aug. 5 to allow Judge William Hultgren time to review the footage.

The 24-year-old Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and had two 10-day contracts with the Orlando Magic this season.

He was arrested in May after two guns and suspected marijuana were found in a vehicle he was in.

Appling also faces a trial in Detroit where he was charged in June with carrying a concealed weapon.

Arkansas hoping for more backcourt depth and stronger press in 2016-17

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Dusty Hannahs #3 of the Arkansas Razorbacks drives to the basket against Michael Humphrey #10 of the Stanford Cardinal  at Barclays Center on November 27, 2015 in Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Arkansas is coming off of a disappointing 16-16 season in which they missed the postseason.

The Razorbacks lost two key guards in Anthlon Bell and Jabril Durham — who both exhausted their eligibility — but they’re hoping a couple of additions will bolster the depth of their backcourt and make their trademark press stronger.

In a story from Tom Murphy of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Razorbacks are excited about the possibilities of their new backcourt.

Although Arkansas lost two talented seniors and a transfer in Jimmy Whitt, they return Dusty Hannahs, Manny Watkins and Anton Beard while also getting two of the best junior college guards in the country. Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon come in highly touted for next season and both junior college guards garnered a lot of praise from their play last season.

With Arkansas also bringing in some freshman guards like C.J. Jones and RJ Glasper, head coach Mike Anderson is hoping to have enough bodies to play fast and use his press. The team appears to be optimistic as well.

“I think we’ll have a lot more toughness at the guard position, and depth,” Watkins said to Murphy. “We’ve got a lot of guys. When we’re pressing and stuff, we’ve got bodies we can bring in.”

Arkansas also returns an SEC Player of the Year candidate in big man Moses Kingsley and they could be an intriguing team to track this season if Barford and Macon are as good as advertised. They’ll certainly have more bodies to throw at opposing guards and that should help Arkansas play faster than they did last season.