School: University of Arizona
Location: Tucson, AZ
Founded: 1885
School Type: Public
Student Population: 39,236 total, 30,867 undergrad
Stadium: McKale Center
Seating: 14,545
Opened: 1973
Head Coach: Sean Miller
Experience: 4th year

So, here we are, the Sweet Sixteen, the fourth consecutive year for Thad Matta and his teams to reach this level. The winner of this game continues on to the Elite Eight and play the winner of the Wichita State (#9 seed) / LaSalle (#13 seed) on March 30th. After sending Iowa State University home (barely), Ohio State moves on to the PAC 12 to play the Wildcats of University of Arizona. They are coached by Sean Miller, and if he sounds familiar to you, ht should. He spent the 2001 – 2004 seasons as an assistant coach to our very own Thad Matta at Xavier.

We meet again…

The Wildcats, ranked #21 and seeded #6, currently sit at (27-7, 12-6). They got to this point in the NCAA’s by beating a popular upset pick Belmont 81-64, then cruising past Harvard 74-51. The Wildcats enter this game scoring 73 points per game, while giving up 63. The numbers are a bit higher than Ohio State’s averages of 70 and 59 per game, but not much difference between the two teams. The Buckeyes are a 4-point favorite, so other folks don’t see much difference, either.

Meanwhile, Ohio State rolls into their Sweet Sixteen NCAA by beating Iona College and Iowa State University, running their winning streak to 10 games. The Buckeyes continue to come together as a team, in the respect that the scoring constant of DeShaun Thomas (19.7 ppg) is being supplemented by the recent emergence of Sam Thompson (20 pts, against Iona) and LaQuinton Ross (17 pts against ISU) as emerging scorers. Aside from Aaron Craft getting a few points (18) against ISU, the ball movement and distribution is creating a more fluid offense with 37 assists being chalked up the past two games.
Defensively the past two games, OSU has caused 37 turnovers energized by 15 steals. The Buckeyes have converted these turnovers to 47 points, 27% of their 2-game total. Clearly, this defense is generating significant offense for the Bucks. Rebounding has been a mixed bag; the Buckeyes had a slight rebounding edge against Iona (44-40) but were far short against ISU, 22-36. The issue was further exacerbated against Iowa State when Oho State grabbed only 3 offensive rebounds of 24 missed shots. Ugh. This is certainly an opportunity for improvement.

Below is the usual set of tables with relevant performance information will be pulled from the excellent site at Statsheet.


The Wildcats will start senior Solomon Hill (F, 6‘7“, 13.3 ppg), sophomore Nick Johnson (G,6’3”, 11.6 ppg) , senior Mark Lyons (G, 6‘1“, 15.4 ppg), senior Kevin Parrom (G/F, 6’6”, 8.3 ppg) and freshman Kaleb Tarczewski (C, 7’0”, 6.6 ppg). Key stats for starters:

#44 S. Hill 34 33.0 13.3 45.2 77.0 38.9 5.4 2.7 2.2
#13 N. Johnson 34 31.3 11.6 45.1 70.8 39.0 3.5 3.3 1.9
#2 M. Lyons 34 30.2 15.4 43.3 85.3 33.3 2.0 2.9 2.7
#3 K. Parrom 34 23.4 8.3 49.2 75.8 40.6 4.9 1.9 1.1
#35 K. Tarczewski 34 22.1 6.6 53.5 62.5 0.0 6.2 0.4 1.5


Ohio State

For your reviewing pleasure, your OSU starters; Aaron Craft (G, 6’2”), Lenzelle Smith, Jr. (G, 6’4”), DeShaun Thomas (F, 6’7”), Sam Thompson (F,6’7”) and Amir Williams (C, 6’11”). Seeing significant playing time will be Shannon Scott (G, 6’1”), Evan Ravenal (C/F, 6’8”) and LaQuinton Ross (F, 6’8”). Key stats for starters:

#1 D. Thomas 35 35.2 19.7 44.5 84.0 35.0 6.1 1.3 1.3
#4 A. Craft 35 34.1 10.0 43.1 77.6 30.1 3.4 4.7 1.9
#32 L. Smith Jr. 35 27.3 9.4 43.6 67.7 37.5 4.8 1.5 1.3
#12 S. Thompson 35 24.5 7.8 50.5 70.1 40.4 3.4 1.0 0.9
#23 A. Williams 35 16.5 3.6 56.5 55.7 0.0 3.9 0.1 0.8

The below table has the comparative Four Factors as well as possessions per game (PPP), points per possession – offense (PPP-O) and points allowed per possession (PPP-D).

    eFG%        TO%   Off Reb  FT Rate     PPG    PPP (O)   PPP (D)
Arizona 52.6% 19.6% 35.1% 37.3% 67 1.10 0.94
Ohio State 51.2% 16.4% 31.8% 34.7% 64 1.09 0.91

LQR doing his thing

Sean Miller’s team presents an interesting challenge based on the similarities of the two teams. Sort of like trying to figure out how to beat your doppelganger. Craft, Smith and Scott will need to play sound, position defense on ‘Zona’s guards, since  Johnson & Lyons spread their assists around in addition to scoring.

OSU needs to continue to play the same type of tenacious, sound positioning with their perimeter defense, while still playing sound front court defense. That’s asking a good bit, but we’re down to the final 16 teams. Arizona spreads their scoring around a bit better than OSU, but there still aren’t any 3-point bombardiers like Iowa State had.  For the season, Arizona’s 3-pt attempts are 37% of their total FG attempts, compared to 44% from ISU and 31% for OSU.

Tip-off is Thursday, March 28th at 7:47PM (EST) from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The game will be aired on CBS. The live Game Chat will begin 15 minutes prior to tip-off. Please join us.


  1. Al SchifanoNo Gravatar
    March 26th, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Wildcat fan for over sixty years, always have had great respect for Ohio State. Looking forward to a great game. Not predicting a winner but you know who I am rooting for. I appreciate this article. It underscores similarity of the teams. Nice that Miller calls Matta his best friend. My concern as a Cats’ fan is their tendency to turn the ball more often than their opponents. In such a game with balanced opponents, turnovers might determne the outcome. I expect a down to the wire thriller. Go Cats.


  2. KenNo Gravatar
    March 26th, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    First, Al thanks for your comment and perspective. My odometer just flipped to 62, so I appreciate the long-view of this sort of stuff. I agree that the turnovers may favor Ohio State, but the free throw % favors Arizona, so there may be a wash. To be honest, my chief concern is OSU’s often shortcomings with protecting the defensive glass. If OSU can create turnovers, great, but if they allow additional ‘quality’ (point-blank) possessions, there is more than an offset, and not in OSU’s favor. I guess we’ll find out Thursday.

    On a side note, a good friend of mine, who lives in Columbus, OH no less, has a daughter that matriculates at Arizona. Small world.

    If you’re looking to be further entertained and feel like multitasking, we’ll run an ingame live chat on Thursday, so feel free to drop in. The participants are pretty typical fans; offering comments supportive and critical of their team, but always critical of officiating (sorry Charles).

    Thanks again for stopping by, Al.

    Oh, Go Buckeyes.


    Al SchifanoNo Gravatar
    March 26th, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks, Ken. I may drop in the chat during the first half. Fans will be fans. They are major part of making March Madness the awesome spectacle that it is.
    I am quite dismayed by the fact I have an unmoveable (no TV/internet/radio access) commitment starting at about the last five minutes of the game. Will set up my DVR and hope nobody tells me the results until I watch it a couple of hours after the fact. YIKES!! It will be hard to focus during that time. :)


    KenNo Gravatar
    March 27th, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Ouch, that’s unfortunate. Enjoy your event (as best you can) and hope to see you Thursday.


    Al SchifanoNo Gravatar
    March 28th, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Ken, Congratulations Buckeyes and fans. Great game as expected. No excuses or what ifs. The better team won. I’m cheering for the Buckeyes to go all the way. Love my Cats; future looks good. al


    KenNo Gravatar
    March 29th, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Al, thank you for stopping by, and for the good wishes. Your initial comment was spot on; a “down to the wire thriller”. The future does look bright for your Cats, you’ve got one helluva coach in Sean Miller.

    Again, I appreciate your insights to the game, thank you.


    EricNo Gravatar
    March 29th, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Thanks for stopping by and joining us Al. Congrats on an excellent season for your Cats (no bones about it, any season that ends in a Sweet 16 is excellent), and best of luck in the future.


  3. BEARDOWBBILLNo Gravatar
    March 27th, 2013 at 5:04 am

    Arizona does have very good 3pt shooters in Kevin Parrom and Grant Jerret. Ave pts per game for Arizona is 73.3. Arizonas perimeter game is much better than OSU, and its size downlow will provide tough matchup. If Arizona is to lose (in a home court type scenario) its because craft shuts down mark lyons. That is Ohio’s only chance.


    KenNo Gravatar
    March 27th, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I agree that the Lyons-Craft matchup will ne critical. What is Zona’s play to shut down Thomas/Thompson/Ross?

    Very good comment, thanks for you insights.


    Al SchifanoNo Gravatar
    March 27th, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Arizona can’t shut them down. They can hope to contain, limit and make difficult their looks. Will it be enough?? I have watched Ohio State several times this year and I am very impressed. In a five game series, with both teams playing their best, I think Ohio State wins 3 out of 5. Of course, in March Madness it comes down to one game. which game will it be? I think the outcome will hinge on Turnovers. Under 10 Arizona has an excellent chance of winning. Over 10 Arizona has an excellent chance of losing. So much depends on Lyons. If he plays like the last two games Cats can win. Neither team is going to blow out the other. Looking forward to a great game.


    KenNo Gravatar
    March 28th, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I agree Al, this is going to be a great game. This game is a concern for me, because I still, at this point, do not have a good feel for this game. I think you are right in that this game will hinge on turnovers. I guess we’ll find out in a few hours.


  4. ZonaAllDayNo Gravatar
    March 27th, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Think it will be a good game. Arizona has a big front line in Tarzewski, Ashley, and Jarret. I was watching O. State, and they didn’t seem that big. I could be wrong. A lot of folks are saying that Mark Lyons vs A. Craft will be the matchup to watch, but I’m looking forward to see how O State handles Arizona when they go big w/ the 7footer & two 6’10 guys that can shoot. I think whoever wins this goes on to the Final Four, and I’m hoping it’s Arizona…


    KenNo Gravatar
    March 28th, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    I think OSU’s most effective lineup is their ‘small’ team combinations of Craft/Scott/Smith at guards and Thomas/Thompson/Ross at forwards. Ross is the tallest on the floor at 6’8″. Thomas (6’7″) is a very active forward who works well in the paint. Thompson (6’7″) is also very active and has the ability to lift, so he plays a lot taller than 6’7″.

    I see your point about OSU’s issues if Zona goes big. The flip side is; if Zona goes big, can they keep up with OSU’s small team speed? I guess we’ll find out later.

    Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your insights.


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