You may have noticed that we haven’t shown much March Madness love on the site. Again, we don’t make apologies for this- we do what we can and what we know. However, a good friend of mine has been a college coach, and is a avid NCAA basketball fan. I asked him for some keys to look for if Ohio State and Xavier expect to get to the Final Four. Special thanks to Jon Cook for the help!
For Ohio State:
The Buckeyes are now deemed to have a bracket that has “opened up” for them to make an easy run to Indianapolis. I think that stance discounts how difficult a match-up with Tennessee will be for the Scarlet & Gray. Tennessee is a less than ideal match-up for OSU for a number of reasons:
1. Tennessee can play effectively with 2 bigs in the line-up (Williams & Chism), one of whom is more than capable of stepping away from the basket and shooting or even playmaking from the perimeter.
2. This means that the Bucks will likely have to play zone if the score & time allow. Ohio State is a below average rebounding team on their best years under Thad Matta, and that is only exacerbated by playing zone. Tennessee can shoot from distance but more importantly they are capable of dominating the offensive glass.
3. Tennessee has long athletic perimeter players who are capable defending in the full court. Their length and Evan Turner’s propensity for turning over the ball could spell trouble for the #2 Seed.
Should the Bucks advance and match-up with Michigan State in a regional final… It’s Big Ten basketball and the game would be a pick’em even without Kalin Lucas.
Northern Iowa would present a very intriguing match-up for OSU:
1. The Panthers (did you really know their nickname?) are considerably deeper than the Buckeyes, but their style of play does a lot to minimize that advantage.
2. The Buckeyes are clearly more athletic than UNI and may have the ability to increase tempo.
3. A half court game definitely would favor Northern Iowa. They defend the ball extremely well as a unit and OSU’s offense relies a great deal on dribble penetration which is nearly impossible against Ben Jacobson’s club.
4. UNI also will play a double low post line-up, and playing zone against is a true gamble!
5. Evan Turner may be capable of carrying the Bucks through this match-up
Xavier has maybe the most difficult road left to the Final Four. Their match-up with 2nd seeded Kansas State could be a GREAT basketball game particularly if both backcourts are playing well.
1. The match-up of Xavier’s Holloway & Crawford against KSU’s Clemente & Pullen is potentially out of this world. If a clear edge can be gained here the game may be decided.
2. Assuming the backcourts are a relative stand-off the edge in the frontcourt clearly goes to Kansas State. They are deeper, longer and probably more athletic. If Love & Maclean can stay out of foul trouble Xavier has a great chance.
With all due respect to the Butler Bulldogs, a win over Syracuse this week would be a true shocker. So… Let’s assume that XU will be facing The Orangemen in the regional final.
1. If Onuaku is out Love and Maclean may give Xavier a fighting chance against Rick Jackson and a sometimes underrated Syracuse frontline.
2. The Xavier guards are going to have to be outstanding against the 2-3 zone.
3. Wesley Johnson is a nightmare match-up for the Musketeers (& all of the NCAA for that matter). He & Rautins cannot both play well or its lights out for Xavier.
Xavier plays Kansas State tonight at approximately 9:37. The Buckeyes and Volunteers tip-off tomorrow at 7:07.