3rd Round Pick
This Game will get plenty of promotion because it’s a matchup between a couple of storied schools, but it could end in a route. Arizona is a completely different team from VCU, and that’s a bad thing for Ohio State.
The best comparison for Arizona in Ohio State’s previous opponents this year is probably Wisconsin. The Buckeyes lost their only matchup against the Badgers by 24 points. Not saying those two teams are exactly the same, but they bring similar aspects to the Game.
The Wildcats play smart basketball, always play hard and rarely hurt themselves. It’s been evident throughout the entire season. This team rarely puts up a dud and excels on both ends of the cOurt. It doesn’t help Ohio State that it just had to play an overtime Game, nor that this Game will be played in Oregon.
The Wildcats boast loads of size and that will be Ohio State’s first problem. The backcOurt battle is fairly even between Zona’s T.J. McConnell and Gabe York and OSU’s Shannon SCott and D’Angelo Russell. Then again, if Russell goes off for 28 points again, the Bucks will have the edge. However, scoring won’t come as easy in this Game for Russell. There’s no doubt Arizona will make sure whoever is guarding Russell, will be glued to him. And if Russell doesn’t have a good Game, it could be a long day.
Ohio State has some size, but this isn’t a team that is known as a force down low considering they were outrebounded by VCU, giving up 13 offensive rebounds to a smaller team. The trio of Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley will be tough for the Buckeyes to match up with. Sam Thompson and Jae’Sean Tate are good players, but they give up size to all of those guys, not to mention plenty other things.
Arizona has won 12 straight Games with 10 of those coming by double-digits. While the Pac-12 isn’t great, that’s still an impressive feat. Ohio State barely got the win against VCU last Game, but Arizona is on another level — a Wisconsin-like level. Ohio State was given a 10-seed for a reason, they only had one win against Top 50 RPI teams. Arizona has been a Top 10 team all season long.
The Buckeyes go into ruts at times on the offensive end and that even happened against VCU. If Russell doesn’t have things going, other guys like Shannon SCott and Tate have to force shots and that’s not going to cut it against a stout defensive team like Arizona. The Buckeyes will need Marc Loving to bring his early-season form and Amir Williams to hold his ground in the paint.
The main difference between Arizona and Wisconsin is that the Wildcats aren’t as good of a shooting team. That may lead to the Buckeyes playing zone again, much like they did against VCU. Arizona doesn’t have a ton of shooters so that could be a way that Ohio State has a chance. Brandon Ashley can stretch the floor, but still lacks major range. York is the Wildcats best 3-point shooter and he has only hit 56 this year at a 38.9% rate.
The margin of error for Ohio State will be slim, but there are ways the Buckeyes can keep it close. It’s just that Arizona has plenty of ways they can make the Game wide open.