NCAA Tournament: Ohio State vs. Gonzaga Recap

Just like we did for the Loyola (MD) game, it’s time to briefly look back on OSU’s victory over Gonzaga  before we look ahead to the Sweet Sixteen.  I managed to get lucky again with a close score prediction, only missing by a couple of points either way, but was shocked to see a couple of things turn out the way they did in this matchup.

#1 Guard (Kevin Pangos vs. Aaron Craft)

I predicted that Pangos would struggle with the intense pressure from Craft, and his 3-13 shooting line would indicate that he did.  However, the most surprising thing about this head-to-head battle was what Aaron Craft was able to do on the offensive side of the ball.  The Findlay native achieved his first collegiate double-double, tying his season high of 17 points, and dishing out 10 assists.  The Buckeye point guard never left the court, played one of his best games of his career, and easily won this matchup.  And yes, CBS managed to bring up the Rubik’s cube thing yet again. 

#2 Guard (Gary Bell, Jr. vs. Lenzelle Smith, Jr.)

I admit it; I swung and missed on this one.  I had given the edge to Lenzelle Smith, Jr. in this on-court matchup, but Gary Bell, Jr. was a force to be reckoned with.  He shot 60% from behind the arc, had 5 assists, and led the Zags with 18 points.  LSJ played his normal game, grabbing 5 rebounds and finishing with 7 points, but in the battle of the #2 guard, GBJ topped LSJ on Saturday.

#3 Forward/Guard (Guy Landry Edi vs. William Buford)

“I want to give you some deep, bold prediction, but the bottom line is that both players will be efficient and not overly exciting.  Buford will hit his shots quietly, and will win this position battle.  The end.”  That was the phrase I chose to use in describing this matchup, and it proved true.  GLE was largely a non-factor in this game, scoring just 4 points, and William Buford shot the ball poorly and ended with 13 points.  The senior leader for OSU needs to bring his “A game” very soon for this team to advance further…or at least his B game, and this wasn’t it. 
#4 Forward (Elias Harris/Sam Dower vs. Deshaun Thomas)
If this were a one-on-one matchup, then I may call it a push, but I’ll give this one to Deshaun Thomas.  Dower and Harris combined for 25 points to Thomas’ 18, but the X Factor continued to be a force on the offensive glass, and his second chance put backs helped to keep this game in Ohio State’s favor.  The Tank has been rolling through the competition lately, averaging about 20 points per game since the Big Ten Tournament (no matter what Reggie Miller’s announcing crew tells you), and Dower/Harris were also unable to stop him.
#5 Center/Forward (Robert Sacre vs. Jared Sullinger)
Robert Sacre did his best to frustrate Sullinger underneath the basket, playing physically and staying in his face on defense, however Sully was able to get the better of the bald Bulldog.  Sullinger finished with 18 points to Sacre’s 8, and simply took what the defense gave him.  He was left open on a few occasions from 3 point range, and Jared showed Gonzaga his outside shooting abilities by draining a couple of early treys.  This was huge for the Buckeyes’ big man, as it helped to give him confidence in his game that will do nothing but help him in this tournament run.

In all, Gonzaga played a smart game against OSU, banging them in the paint and running a solid offensive game plan.  OSU’s defense, along with some clutch shots, was able to keep the Bulldogs at an arm’s length late in the game, and hold off a potential upset.  And just like that, the Buckeyes are back in the Sweet Sixteen!

Predicted Score: OSU  75 – Gonzaga 68

Actual Score: OSU 73 – Gonzaga 66

Follow me on Twitter @ScarletandGame or @AJBorland

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Tags: Aaron Craft Deshaun Thomas Elias Harris Gary Bell Gonzaga Basketball Guy Landry Edi Jared Sullinger Jr. Kevin Pangos Lenzelle Smith Jr. Ohio State Basketball Robert Sacre Sam Dower Thad Matta William Buford

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