The Buckeyes and Cyclones are as different as they come. Ohio State plays a defensive style of basketball, whereas Iowa State prefers to run up and down the court while taking every three-point shot they can. But both cruised to victory in the second round. Whoever wins, that will most likely not be the case in the third round of the Tournament. Without further ado, here are some matchups to watch and points of interest for today’s game, set to tip-off on CBS at 12:15.
Buckeyes offense vs. Cyclones defense:
Ohio State does not usually play an up-tempo, high-scoring type of game. But the Buckeyes showed on Friday that they can play that style of basketball and win. In an impressive 95-70 victory over Iona, the Bucks put on a show on offense. Junior forward Deshaun Thomas led the charge as usual, racking up 24 points. But the player who stole the show was Sam Thompson. The sophomore forward notched 20 points on the night, including a trio of alley-oops. If Thompson continues his stellar play, opponents ought to be afraid of him.
In looking at the box score from Friday’s game, Thomas and Thompson were nearly perfect from the charity stripe, hitting 13 of 14 attempts from the line. Junior point guard Aaron Craft didn’t put up too many points, but he dished out seven assists. Junior guard Lenzelle Smith (12 points) and senior forward Evan Ravenel (12 points) provided some secondary scoring, which will be key if the Buckeyes expect to beat the Cyclones, a team with a high-flying offensive attack.
As a whole, the offense clicked perfectly. Through the first eight minutes of Friday’s first round game, the Buckeyes were shooting 60% and had a 24-8 lead. Though the Gaels made things interesting towards the end of the first with a 12-3 run, Ohio State ousted Iona’s chances early in the second. The Gaels had no answer for Ohio State’s high-powered attack that featured a combination of treys, post plays and fast breaks.
Iowa State will have a tough time solving OSU’s offense on Sunday. Not known for defense, the Cyclones allow an average of 70.9 points per game. Barring a poor shooting outing, Ohio State should be able surpass that mark. The Cyclones have to hope that the Buckeyes have an off-day, because few teams can beat Ohio State when all cylinders are clicking on offense for the Bucks. CBS Color Analyst Clark Kellog accurately explained OSU’s current situation, “Everyone is embracing their roles and playing at a very good level.”
Cyclones offense vs. Buckeyes defense:
Iowa State is a dangerous team. As shown by the squad’s 76-58 drubbing of Notre Dame on Friday, the Cyclones can light it up from behind the arc. Iowa State nailed 9 of 21 shots from threeland on the night. The Cyclones have relied upon treys all season, as the team leads the nation in both three-pointers attempted and made. Notre Dame’s big forwards were forced to step outside to defend ISU’s three point shooters, such as guards Korie Lucious, Tyrus McGee and Chris Babb. One the Fighting Irish were pulled out of the post, forward Georges Niang snuck in down low and gashed them for easy points. The Iowa State big man notched 19 points on the night, converting on 9 of his 13 attempts. As a team, the Cyclones shot at nearly a 70% clip in the second half. It’s hard to beat a team shooting that well. As noted by Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey, “They’re very, very hard to guard. They’re really good. And with Niang in the middle kind of wheeling and all those guys spreading you out, they’re kind of a nightmare matchup. And they’re men. They’re really men.”
Ohio State will be better suited to face Iowa State’s efficient offense than Notre Dame, as the Buckeyes boast one of the best perimeter defenses in college basketball. As pointed out by Associated Press writer Joe Kay, “The Buckeyes have been very good at shutting down the perimeter during their nine-game winning streak that includes the Big Ten tournament title.” OSU also has Craft, one of the best defensive players in years to wear the Scarlet and Gray. He recorded six steals on Friday, though it seemed like more. Craft’s defensive intensity will pose a significant problem for ISU. If the Cyclones aren’t able to find any breathing room behind the arc, they are in trouble. Though the team averages 79.8 points per outing, Iowa State can be eliminated easily three-pointers aren’t falling.
Prediction: Though Iowa State could make the game close should its shooters find space from behind the arc, Ohio State has a very stingy defense. The Buckeyes have also been hot offensively, a deadly combination for the Cyclones. Though the Bucks will walk away with the victory, in this writer’s opinion, Iowa State will hang around and keep OSU fans nervous for much of the game.
Score: Buckeyes- 77 Cyclones- 69
What do you think about the game? Let us know in the comments section below!
Information from ESPN.com, the Associated Press, and Eleven Warriors was used in this article.