(2) Ohio State vs. (9) Wichita State
(2) Ohio State Buckeyes
The South Region has been crazy and full of upsets, but the Buckeyes have been able to withstand it all with a little bit of heroics. In the Round of 32 it was Aaron Craft coming up with the big three to steal the win away and on Friday night it was LaQuinton Ross coming up huge in the clutch. He nailed a three with two seconds left to put the Buckeyes in the Elite Eight over the Arizona Wildcats 73-70. He had a 17 point night overall, while Deshaun Thomas was spectacular once again, putting up 20 points on 7-14 shooting from the field. As a team the Buckeyes shot 7-13 from three; if they continue to shoot it like that they’re going to be extremely difficult to eliminate. The Buckeyes did a really nice job battling on the frontline against the very young, but talented big men of Arizona. Frontline play will be vital once again against the Shockers of Wichita State in the Elite Eight. If the Buckeyes can battle them to a standstill on the boards and stay hot from the field, the Final Four is definitely not out of the question.
(9) Wichita State Shockers
Coming off of one of the biggest wins in program history against the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Round of 32, it would have been very easy for the Shockers to have a letdown and somewhat overlook the La Salle Explorers. They did no such thing, though, as they rolled past the Explorers 72-58 behind another great performance offensively. Collectively they shot 30-67 from the field and turned it over just eight times while outrebounding the Explorers by a devastating margin of 21. Malcolm Armstead was rock solid, putting up 18 points, six rebounds and four assists; Carl Hall wasn’t too bad himself, going for a respectable 16 points and eight rebounds. The Shockers defense was able to figure out La Salle, but their challenge in the Elite Eight will be much more difficult. The Buckeyes have one of the country’s best scorers in Thomas, but the Shockers should probably just accept that he’s going to get his. If they can keep his supporting cast from going off, this magical run could continue to the Final Four.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Wichita State. You just can’t help but feel like there’s something special about this Shockers team. They’re big, well-rounded and they don’t beat themselves. It will be a close game, but they’ll find a way to get it done against the Buckeyes.