NCAA Tournament Final Four: Cheat Sheet (Part 2)
Since you've already been acquainted with the Wildcats and Cardinals through our first cheat sheet, here's a closer look at the Buckeyes and Jayhawks:
How The Ohio State Buckeyes Got Here:
Defeated No. 15 Loyola (MD), 78-59, in Round of 64
Defeated No. 7 Gonzaga, 73-66, in Round of 32
Defeated No. 6 Cincinnati, 81-66, in Sweet 16
Defeated No. 1 Syracuse, 77-70, in Elite Eight
Strong Conference Campaign
The Buckeyes finished in a three-way tie for the Big Ten regular season crown. In a deep conference, boasting the likes of Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana, Ohio State won 13 of 18 conference matches. The Buckeyes lost the Big Ten Championship game to the Michigan St. Spartans by a mere 4 points after the Spartans caught fire from beyond the arc.
The Big Buckeye Three
Jared Sullinger, DeShaun Thomas and William Buford combined to average more than 48 points per game. Sullinger and Thomas are only sophomores, whereas Buford is a senior. Another sophomore, Aaron Craft, does not always score that much, but consistently contributes floor leadership and feisty defense.
Rebounding For Dummies
In the tournament, Ohio St. has comfortably outrebounded each of its opponents except for Gonzaga. Most notably, the Buckeyes grabbed twice as many rebounds as the overwhelmed Loyola Greyhounds. More recently, the Buckeyes collected 15 more rebounds than the Syracuse Orange, who appeared to desperately miss academically ineligible center Fab Melo.
Tournament Studs: Two of Ohio St.’s big three have delivered throughout the tournament, while Buford has struggled to make shots since the Round of 64.
DeShaun Thomas: 22.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 35-67 FGs (52.2%), 38.3 MPG
Jared Sullinger: 18 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 27-33 FTs (81.8%)
(Not so studly) William Buford: 13-45 FGs (28.9%)
Aaron Craft: 37.8 MPG
Defeated No. 15 Detroit, 65-50, in Round of 64
Defeated No. 10 Purdue, 63-60, in Round of 32
Defeated No. 11 North Carolina State, 60-57, in Sweet 16
Defeated No. 1 North Carolina, 80-67, in Elite Eight
Plowing Through Conference Schedule
The Jayhawks won the Big 12 regular season title with a stellar 16-2 record. Its only in-conference losses came in road games against Iowa State and Missouri. Kansas fell to the Baylor Bears in the Big 12 tournament semi-finals, preventing the Jayhawks from meeting the Missouri Tigers for a third time this season. Coach Bill Self’s bunch has won 13 of its last 14 games, as it readies to take on the Ohio St. Buckeyes in the Final Four.
The Difference A Year Makes
Junior Thomas Robinson and senior guard Tyshawn Taylor have both improved dramatically from last season, as these two players easily led the Jawhawks in scoring this time around. Robinson, who more than doubled last season’s scoring average, posted 17.7 PPG and 11.8 RPG, this season. He’s just an absolute offensive beast around the rim, as well as on the glass. For his part, Taylor took more than 12 shots per game this season (up from 6.7 attempts last year), all the while managing to increase his efficiency. The Jayhawks also possess a tremendous shot-blocker in Jeff Withey, who rejected 3.5 shots per night.
Tournament Studs: Withey has blocked 5 shots per game, including 10 blocks in the Jayhawks’ narrow win over the North Carolina State Wolfpack.
Thomas Robinson: 15.8 PPG, 12.5 RPG
Tyshawn Taylor: 12 PPG, 5 RPG, 3.8 APG
Elijah Johnson: 13.5 PPG, 19-41 FGs (46.3%)