Coming off a dramatic, buzzer beater win against the Iowa State Cyclones, the Buckeyes road to the Final Four moves to Los Angeles where they will face the Wildcats of Arizona. Arizona has pounded their first two opponents thus far in the tournament; beating Belmont – 81 to 64 and then hammering Harvard, who won its first ever NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament game, 74 to 51. While the Wildcats didn’t come into the tournament playing their best basketball of the year, they sure turned it back on this past weekend.
Arizona has a huge size advantage over Ohio State which may swing this into a game that the Buckeyes aren’t very comfortable with. Ohio State has struggled against the more “physical” types of teams during the 2012-13 basketball season and have had issues rebounding the basketball all season long. The Buckeyes have rebounded just 31.9 percent of their own misses this season, per KenPom.com, which ranks near the bottom at 158th in the country! This past Sunday showed a prime example of these struggles… Iowa State nearly upset OSU over the weekend, dominating the Buckeyes with a 35 to 20 rebounding advantage.
The key match-up in this game will be Kaleb Tarczewski vs. Deshaun Thomas. Arizona’s 7-foot freshman will have the daunting task of guarding the 6’7 Thomas who is smaller and much quicker. Thomas is shooting an a ridiculous 61.5% so far from the field this March Madness while averaging 23 points a game. If he can continue this current trend… the Buckeyes should be able to overcome the the bigger Arizona Wildcats.
The dark horse of this Sweet Sixteen Matchup will be Arizona’s Solomon Hill. Arizona’s Coach Sean Miller will look to go with a smaller, quicker power forward in Hill. Hill has all the tools to interrupt the Buckeyes run to the Final Four. He can shoot from all over the court, rebounds very well and provides an excellent compliment to the transfer from Xavier University, Mark Lyons. This postseason, Hill has averaged 11 points per game while blazing the nets from the 3-point line, shooting a red hot 71.4%. If Arizona pulls off the upset, it will be because Hill is able to create match-up problems for the Buckeyes on the offensive side of the court.
FINAL PREDICTION: Although Arizona will have the edge on the glass, Ohio State boasts one of the stingiest defenses in the country. In Big Ten play this year, Ohio State held its opponents from the toughest conference in the NCAA to less than 60 points per game! The Wildcats haven’t seen a defense this disciplined and in your face all year which will provide the edge for The Ohio State Buckeyes.
FINAL SCORE: Ohio State 66 – Arizona 60