School: University of Arizona
Location: Tucson, AZ
School Type: Public
Student Population: 39,236 total, 30,867 undergrad
Stadium: McKale Center
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.
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:
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:
|#32||L. Smith Jr.||35||27.3||9.4||43.6||67.7||37.5||4.8||1.5||1.3|
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)|
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.