Friday, March 30, 2012

Final Four Preview - Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes (31-7)

Regular Season Big Ten Co-Champion
#2 Seed East Regional

Tournament Wins:

W 78-59 vs #15 Loyola (MD)
W 73-66 vs #7 Gonzaga
W 81-66 vs #6 Cincinnati
W 77-70 vs #1 Syracuse


#0 Jared Sullinger - Sophomore - 6'9" 265 lbs - Sullinger surprised a lot of people when he came back for his sophomore season at Ohio State. A strong, physical player with a high basketball IQ, Sullinger has turned in a second straight strong season for the Buckeyes and has averaged 18 points and over 8 rebounds a game in their four tournament wins. Sullinger is projected to be a Top 10 pick in this year's draft if he declares.
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#1 Deshaun Thomas - Sophomore - 6'7" 225 lbs - A strong, athletic, and very versatile wing, Thomas has turned into a big time scorer this year. A good shooter with great range, Thomas has been exceptional thus far in the tournament leading Ohio State with 21.8 points and 8.8 rebounds in the while shooting over 52% from the field. Thomas is ranked 40th on ESPN analyst Chad Ford's draft board.
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#32 Lenzelle Smith, Jr. - Sophomore - 6'4" 205 lbs - Smith has seen his production increase in every game of the tournament going from 3 points against Loyola, to 7 against Gonzaga to 17 against Cincinnati and finally 18 against Syracuse. Smith only scored in double figures 6 times during the regular season.
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#44 William Buford - Senior - 6'6" 220 lbs - The only senior on the Ohio State roster is a strong, athletic guard with very deep range. He's struggled with his shooting in the tournament connecting on just 13 of 44 shots (29.5%), but has scored in double digits in three of Ohio State's last four games. He is ranked 57th on Chad Ford's draft list.
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#4 Aaron Craft - Sophomore - 6'2" 190 lbs - One of the best on-ball defenders in all of college basketball, Craft has 13 steals in the tournament so far including 6 in the win over Cincinnati. An unselfish player with a high basketball IQ, Craft has dished out a team high 23 assists and only taken 21 shots through the first four games. Craft is ranked 83rd on Chad Ford's draft board.
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Key Reserve:

#30 Evan Ravenel - Junior - 6'8" 260 lbs - The Buckeyes don't rely on their bench much, so Ravenel hasn't had much of an impact in the NCAA Tournament playing just 27 minutes. The Boston College transfer is an efficient scorer and rebounds well. He leads the Ohio State bench in the tournament with 6 points and 5 rebounds.
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Thad Matta - Matta, my boss's cousin, is in his 8th year at Ohio State after stops at Butler and Xavier. This will be the second time Matta has taken the Buckeyes to the Final Four. He actually brought them all the way to the finals in 2007, but there they ran into a tough Florida squad led by Al Horford and Joakim Noah and came up just short. He is one of just two coaches nationally to post 20 or more wins in each of his first twelve seasons as a head coach.
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Where I had them finishing:

I had Ohio State losing in the Sweet 16 to Florida State, but obviously that didn't happen because the Seminoles didn't even reach the Sweet 16. Whoops.


Kansas dealt Ohio State its first loss of the year back on December 10th, 78-67. Don't read too much into that though as the Buckeyes were without Jared Sullinger who missed the game due to back spasms. William Buford led the way with 21 points but shot just 8 of 23 from the field, and Evan Ravenel started in place of Sullinger and chipped in 9 points and 5 rebounds.

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