With No. 10 Ohio State’s close win over VCU in the round of 64, they move on to face a tough No. 2 Arizona Wildcats team on Saturday. This will be no easy one for Thad Matta’s squad, as the Wildcats Pack-line defense is sure to cause trouble.
What the Buckeyes Need
Ohio State’s victory Thursday night came down to a few great shots by forward Keita Bates-Diop, putting the game out of reach. Part of the reason the game was so tight was the 6:21 stretch in the first half where they did not score a single point. If they have any hope of upsetting Arizona, such long droughts just can’t happen. Arizona is big inside, and have some of the best rebounding and post play in the country. Simply put, if the Wildcats get to start defining the speed of the game, that’ll be it for the Buckeyes. They need to keep pressure on at both ends of the court, raining down shots from the perimeter. The only chance of making into the Sweet 16 lies in a shootout.
What Arizona Wants
While Ohio State will be trying to speed up play, the Wildcats will be doing the opposite. With great hands in the paint and a relative dearth of perimeter shooting, the best chance for victory lies in keeping the game inside the paint. That eans letting great post players go to work and picking up as many blocks as possible on the Buckeyes short guards. If this one turns into a slugfest, look for Arizona’s physicality to come out, as fewer teams play hard defense as well as those young men from Tucson.
Whichever team comes out ahead, they will be facing either a high-flying No. 6 Xavier or hot No. 14 Georgia State which will have upset two top-6 seeded teams. Georgia State, which shocked Baylor in the round of 64, is set to have one of the toughest paths through the tourney, but is fast garnering fan support as one of this year’s Cinderella stories.