(2) Ohio State vs. (15) Loyola (MD) Preview
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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(2) Ohio State Buckeyes
The main reason why dominating center Jared Sullinger decided to return to Columbus, Ohio for his sophomore season was to win a national championship. The big man nearly matched his production from last year, but 17 points and nine rebounds a game isn’t going to be enough to get them to New Orleans. He has to control the paint on both ends in order to accomplish his goal. Senior guard William Buford and sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas will keep teams honest and prevent them from focusing solely on Sullinger. Sophomore guard Aaron Craft is steady at the point and he plays with an infectious intensity on defense. The Buckeyes give up just 57 points a night and their physicality on that end of the floor can be quite troublesome. They were an even 5-5 against the RPI Top 25. It’s important for the Buckeyes’ perimeter players to not get baited into taking a lot of threes. They’re not as good of a shooting team as they were last year and if they settle for jumpers, they could be bowing out early. Staying out of foul trouble is also a must since they lack depth.
(15) Loyola (MD) Greyhounds
After finishing second in the regular season of play in the Atlantic Athletic Conference, the Greyhounds took the conference tournament championship to earn the league’s automatic invitation to the big dance. This is just the Greyhounds’ second appearance in the NCAA Tournament in school history and first in 16 years. They’re led by the 13 points per game of Erik Etherly and Dylon Cormier. Etherly also leads the team in rebounding with 7.5 a night. Robert Olson and Justin Drummond score double figures as well at 11 and 10. The Greyhounds attack in isolation a lot offensively. They give up 64 points a night and are most susceptible to the long ball. Against teams in the RPI Top 75, they were 1-2 with their most notable win coming against conference foe Iona. Regardless of how they fair in the tournament, this season is already historic for the Greyhounds and their players and coaches should be commended for accomplishing something the program hasn’t done in over 15 years.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Ohio State. We’ve seen 15 seeds upset two seeds before, but it won’t happen in this game. Sullinger will dominate the interior on both ends to help his Buckeyes advance.
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