NCAA Tournament Round Of 16: #2 Ohio State Vs. #6 Arizona
- CoachingThad Matta is one of the more under-appreciated college coaches in Division I. Not only has he been to two Final Fours, but he has the Buckeyes in contention every year. The one year he missed the tourney? They won the NIT.In a fascinating twist, Sean Miller is the guy who succeeded Matta at Xavier, and then also turned that stint into a better job. He has made a couple of Elite Eights, but he doesn’t quite have Matta’s full repertoire of accomplishments.
- OffenseTo put it succinctly, the Buckeyes aren’t here because of their team offense. 110th in the nation in points scored and 123rd in assists, it’s individual talent (Deshaun Thomas) that delivers the key baskets. Reason to be excited? Ohio State’s offense is playing its absolute best right now, shellacking Iona and handling Iowa State at the end.The Wildcats aren’t an elite offense either, but they still posted more formidable statistics than Ohio State did. Mark Lyons has been a monster in the tournament so far, dropping 23 on Belmont and 27 on Harvard.
- DefenseThe Buckeyes hold opponents down the old-fashioned way – not with blocks or turnovers, but with well-orchestrated, everybody-buying-in team defense. Opponents have managed just 58.8 points per game against them this year.The Wildcats have played well enough on D to stake their offense, but slow starts have hampered this talented squad. Their performance in the Harvard game, however, was simply phenomenal, as they held the Crimson to a measly 27.6 percent shooting from the field.
- Bench DepthShannon Scott is going to get minutes, and so will LaQuinton Ross. Ross was especially good in the Iowa State game, collecting 17 points on six-of-10 shooting.Unless there’s foul trouble, Miller is going to ride his starters in key tournament games. Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Jordin Mayes were all effective in the Belmont win.
Give the Wildcats a lot of credit for making the Sweet 16. Belmont was no joke of an opponent, and Harvard wasn’t a breeze, either. However, Ohio State plays at a higher level and will probably be too much. -Adam Spunberg, College Basketball Contributor