(1) Ohio State vs. (8) George Mason
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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(1) Ohio State Buckeyes
On paper the Ohio State Buckeyes’ contest against the UT-San Antonio Roadrunners appeared to be a mismatch and it turned out to be one on the court as well. The Buckeyes simply outclassed the Southland Conference representative in a game where their best player, Jared Sullinger, was quiet with 11 points and eight rebounds. The Roadrunners really focused in on trying to slow him down, but couldn’t stop the sharpshooting of Jon Diebler and William Buford. The two of them combined to make seven threes on only 13 attempts. As a team the Buckeyes shot 50% from deep and an even better 56% from the field. The 26 assists on 29 made field goals has to make Buckeyes head coach Thad Matta very pleased. Defensively the Buckeyes were a nightmare for UTSA, keeping them well below their averages in every offensive category. The Patriots are a far better defensive team, so the Buckeyes will have to adjust accordingly to the step up in competition.
(8) George Mason Patriots
In a game that really epitomized the Villanova Wildcats’ season by starting strong and finishing poorly the George Mason Patriots came from behind to survive and advance 61-57. The contest was quite thrilling, coming down to the wire with Luke Hancock playing the role of the hero. Corey Fisher put ‘Nova up 57-56 with three free throws at the 31 second mark, only to see Hancock score three the more conventional way the following possession. Corey Stokes had a chance to tie it afterwards, but couldn’t connect as the Patriots displayed some more magic in March. Their defense was very tough as it’s been all season long, holding the Wildcats to 36% shooting from the field and 31% from deep. They’re going to have to channel the 2006 George Mason team in order to get by the Ohio State Buckeyes. They thoroughly dominated UT-San Antonio, which may not be saying much, but they do present a lot of difficult match ups for the Patriots to try to figure out.
HOOPSWORLD’s Pick: Ohio State. This year’s George Mason team is very good, but the Buckeyes are just a little bit too much or them to handle. They won’t go down without a fight, though.