(2) Ohio State vs. (7) Gonzaga Preview
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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(2) Ohio State Buckeyes
They Loyola (MD) Greyhounds would have had to play a perfect game just to hang close with the Buckeyes. Unfortunately for them, they were far from perfect as the Buckeyes handled them with relative ease in a 78-59 victory. The Buckeyes were overwhelming defensively, holding the Greyhounds to just 19 makes on the game at a 35 percent clip. They only gave up four offensive rebounds and doubled up the Greyhounds on the boards total, 46-23. Jared Sullinger was mediocre compared to his usual standards, only putting up 12 points on 4-14 shooting to go along with his 11 rebounds and five blocks, which is a career best. Deshaun Thomas starred for the Buckeyes, scoring a career-high 31 while also grabbing 12 rebounds and swatting two shots. The lone negative for the Buckeyes was their 18 turnovers. That’s far more than their head coach Thad Mata deems as acceptable. They’ll have to shore that up against the Bulldogs and make sure to get Sullinger rolling early so he can get their big men in foul trouble.
(7) Gonzaga Bulldogs
Prior to the start of the tournament Gonzaga vs. West Virginia looked to be one of the most intriguing match ups. It turned out to be a laugher as the Bulldogs dominated the Mountaineers, eliminating them 77-54. The Mountaineers grew to be dependent on Kevin Jones and Darryl “Truck” Bryant, but neither of them could get going. They combined to shoot 6-24 from the field and as a team the Mountaineers shot just 32 percent from the field. On the other hand, the Bulldogs could barely miss. Four players, led by Robert Sacre and Gary Bell Jr.’s 14, scored in double figures and 11 different Bulldogs scored overall. They shot an outstanding 56 percent from the field and 52 percent from deep. If they continue to shoot that well, they’re going to advance far in this tournament. However, it’s unrealistic, especially with a Round of 32 game looming against an Ohio State Buckeyes squad that can really defend, to expect them to continue to do so. They’re going to have to try to get to the free throw line a little more against Ohio State to make up for an inevitable drop off in efficiency and also make sure to keep Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas from exploding.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Ohio State. This is a really tough game to pick, but Sullinger has not played his best as of late and we expect that to change in a big way against Gonzaga. He should have no less than 20 and 10 as the Buckeyes move onto the Sweet 16.
Who do you think is going win? Chime in by leaving a comment below!