One thing is for certain, the Ohio State Buckeyes can shoot the basketball. The Buckeyes shot 16-26 from beyond the arc in their rout of eighth seeded George Mason on Sunday afternoon. It may have been the most spectacular performance of the Buckeyes season. David Lighty, Cleveland native, missed only one shot from the field and was the leading scorer with 25 points.
If the Buckeyes shoot as well as they did on Sunday for the rest of the tournament, then every team mine as well pack up their things and go home. The Buckeyes were punched in the face at the start of the game and found themselves in a whole 11-2 to start.
They slowly worked their way back into the game and that is what great teams tend to do. Needless to say, the Wildcats will have their work cut out for them on Friday night.
If you would like history on your side then Kentucky has just that. While John Calipari was at the University of Massachusetts, he beat #1 UNC, #1 Arkansas and #1 Kentucky. He is no stranger to being the underdog in big games.
While at Memphis, John Calipari was an underdog in just about every game versus conference powers he played against.
It will be a similar story on Friday. The Buckeyes have a more experienced and deeper roster then the Wildcats and they have a tremendous advantage in the post. Jared Sullinger and Dallas Lauderdale will be match-up nightmares for the ‘Cats. Jon Diebler may be the best three-point shooter in the country aside from Jimmer Fredette and David Lighty has defensive engine that you can compare to “the little engine that could”.
No one said it was going to be easy but most people also are not looking at the mismatch that the Wildcats possess. Terrence Jones, the stellar 6’9″ freshman, has the ability to cause problems for Ohio State during the entire game.
You can’t match William Buford up on him because sure he can guard him outside but Terrence Jones would then be able to post up on the block and see right over Buford. You can’t put Lauderdale or Sullinger on him because then he turns into a mid-range player and will easily beat those two off the dribble. The last possibility is throwing a zone at Kentucky but if Thad Matta goes that route then of course Jones would be taken out of the game but the zone opens up Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb and even Darius Miller. So what can the Buckeyes do? Nothing.
My guess is that the zone is out of the question for the Buckeyes. Matta is not going to let Brandon Knight or Doron Lamb get even close to finding a rhythm. With David Lighty and Aaron Craft guarding them both, they will most likely be canceled out.
I would throw William Buford at Jones and pray for the best. The final score of this game is all going to be indicative of who plays the better game between Terrence Jones and Jared Sullinger.
That all being said the winner of this game is my favorite to make it to the National Championship game. Ohio State is a wrecking ball with tons of options and creates a lot of problems for the opposing defenses. I don’t see North Carolina as big time opposition versus the Buckeyes because the Tar Heels are turnover prone and Ohio State makes you pay if you turn the ball over.
The final four is always a crap shoot and I would guess that Duke will be playing in yet another final four. I think Ohio State is much more athletic and physical but that game would be anyone’s game.
As for the Wildcats, they would be getting a rematch against the Tar Heels. A rematch that John Calipari would love to see. John Henson and Tyler Zeller absolutely had their way with the Kentucky post but this was before Josh Harrellson began to play great defense and before he started pulling down every rebound within a five foot radius of him. That would be the difference maker in the match-up.
Against Duke, Kentucky would have to play the best game their season. All the history that is involved with a Duke-Kentucky game would be great for a college basketball final four. Christian Laettner is gone, right?