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NCAA Tournament Final Four: Cheat Sheet (Part 2)

Aaron Fischman |
March 27, 2012 | 1:33 a.m. PDT

Associate Sports Editor

DeShaun Thomas has maintained a sweet shooting stroke all tournament long. (ElevenWarriors/Creative Commons)
DeShaun Thomas has maintained a sweet shooting stroke all tournament long. (ElevenWarriors/Creative Commons)
The Kentucky Wildcats, Louisville Cardinals, Ohio State Buckeyes and Kansas Jayhawks earned the privilege of traveling to New Orleans in the quest for a national title.

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 

Elijah Johnson has turned in a solid tournament performance for the Jayhawks thus far. (SD Dirk/Creative Commons)
Elijah Johnson has turned in a solid tournament performance for the Jayhawks thus far. (SD Dirk/Creative Commons)

How The Kansas Jayhawks Got Here

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%) 

Contact Aaron via email or Twitter.



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