Mar 17, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Thad Matta talks to his squad in the huddle against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the second half in the third round of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the CONSOL Energy Center. Ohio State won 73-66. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Following Syracuse's win over Wisconsin, Ohio State handled Cincinnati fairly easily to clinch their spot in the Elite 8, setting up a No. 1 v. No. 2 seed match-up in Boston on Saturday evening.
Ohio State boasts one of the more talented starting lineups in the nation. Forward Jared Sullinger gets most of the attention, and its pretty warranted. The sophomore average 17.6 points and 9.2 rebounds a game. He's a powerful post player who may give Syracuse some trouble, especially without Fab Melo (stop me if you've heard this one before). Sullinger has also added a bit of range to his offensive arsenal, and will spot up from three on occasion.
The Buckeye that I'm most worried about however, is forward Deshaun Thomas. Thomas is a 'do-it-all' type player for Ohio State. He averages 16.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, and shoots a gaudy 53% from the field. He can shoot from anywhere on the court, and is a major match-up problem for most teams.
William Buford and Aaron Craft are the two biggest names in the Ohio State backcourt. Buford is a consistent senior presence on the floor, averaging 14.4 points in each of his last three seasons at Ohio State. Craft isn't as much of a scoring threat, but he can get hot from behind the arc, and is known as one of the best defensive guards in the country. Guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr. rounds out the Ohio State starting five.
The one area that is a cause for concern for the Buckeyes, especially in a match-up with Syracuse, is depth. All five Ohio State starters played 30 minutes or more last night against Cincinnati. Ohio State's sixth man, guard Shannon Scott, played 16 minutes and scored two points. The Buckeyes won't slow the game down nearly as much as other Big Ten schools, so if Syracuse can push the tempo and wear down the Ohio State starting five, we could be heading to New Orleans next week. This will be a tall order for the Orange, either way.