Pick with Analysis
Ohio State was probably the most underrated seeding over the Tournament, although it could easily be argued they didn’t deserve more with only one win against Top 70 RPI teams. And guess what, VCU finished the season at No. 14 in the RPI. Still, the line moved a ton since being released and the Buckeyes are listed as favorites in most places.
A lot of that has to do with VCU struggling without its starting point guard Briante Weber, who is the all-time NCAA leader in steals. However, the Rams seemed to figure things out in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, winning Four straight Games including a few against some of the best teams in the conference. At full strength, this is a team that got dominated by Villanova and Virginia, but also beat Northern Iowa and Cincinnati in non-Conference play.
Ohio State lost its biggest non-Conference Games against Louisville and North Carolina and doesn’t have much else to go off of. again, this team struggled against the better teams in the conference, losing twice to Michigan State and Iowa and getting dominated by Wisconsin. The Buckeyes’ lone good win was a 24-point beat down of Maryland at home.
There’s one main thing to look at when previewing any VCU Game. Can their opponent play smart, safe basketball and have guards that can take care of the ball? The Buckeyes are slightly better than average turning over the ball. D’Angelo Russell is a next-level player, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t make his fair share of bone-headed turnovers and Shannon SCott is the same way (although not next-level). If Ohio State can break the press, that will leave open looks, but can those guys knock down shots? since returning from a suspension, Marc Loving has not been great and he’s probably the team’s second-best three-point shooter. Russell will have someone in his face at all times and that could be a problem, but the kid can still play.
One area to beat up VCU would be down low, but Ohio State doesn’t have the team to do that. SCott will have to hit some shots for them and Jae’Sean Tate will need to work the glass along with Trey McDonald against Mo-Alie Cox.
VCU loves to press and loves to run. The biggest matchup could be whoever guards Treveon Graham (16.3 PPG, 7 RPG). Graham can shoot, but is also a beast when he takes it to the rim. Sam Thompson has the height and athleticism to deal with Graham, but is giving up more than a few pounds and muscle. Elsewhere, Ohio State shouldn’t have problems dealing with the other matchups, as long as SCott and Russell can prevent open looks for Melvin Johnson and JeQuan Lewis.
The last time Ohio State played a high-pressure defense, they were handled by Louisville, turning it over 14 times and shooting only 30.4% from the field. Russell and SCott turned the ball over a combined nine times. If those two aren’t better than that, VCU should win this Game. The Buckeyes are just so unpredictable because a lot of their success depends on one guy, D’Angelo Russell. Russell is likely headed to the NBA and Shannon SCott is a senior. Will the two show up in what could be their final collegiate Games? VCU +4