(2) Ohio State vs. (2) Kansas
Kansas 31-6, 16-2 Big 12 (Regular-season Conference Champions; At large)
Ohio State 31-7, 13-5 Big Ten (Regular-season Conference 3-way Champions; At large)
Time: 8:49 p.m. Saturday
Location: Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans
Winner will face: (1) Kentucky or (4) Louisville, Monday in National Championship
Kansas def. Detroit, 65-50; def. Purdue, 63-60; def. N.C. State, 60-57; def. North Carolina, 80-67
Ohio State def. Loyola (Md.), 78-59; def. Gonzaga, 73-66; def. Cincinnati, 81-66; def. Syracuse, 77-70
Dec. 10 – At Kansas 78, Ohio State 67
Kansas No. 6 AP; No. 6 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
Ohio State No. 7 AP; No. 7 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
Ohio State 5
Line: Ohio State -2½ (O/U 137)
Players to Watch
Kansas: F Thomas Robinson, 6-10 Jr. (17.7 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 51.2% FG); G Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3 Sr. (16.7 ppg, 4.7 apg, 1.4 spg); G Elijah Johnson, 6-4 Jr. (10 ppg, 3.6 apg, 1.5 spg). Taylor came up big against North Carolina with a trip to the Final 4 on the line. After struggling through the first three rounds of the tourney, Taylor was 10-for-19 from the field with 22 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals.
Ohio State: F Jared Sullinger, 6-9 So. (17.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 53.1% FG); F Deshaun Thomas, 6-7 So. (16.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 53% FG); G William Buford, 6-6 Sr. (14.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 35.1% 3s). Buford hasn’t shot well during the tournament, but Saturday’s win over Syracuse, the senior contributed with 13 points, nine rebounds and a pair of assists.
Why Each Team Dangerous
Kansas: Robinson is a National Player of the Year candidate. He has 16 double-doubles for the season and should have a big game against the Buckeyes. Defensively, Robinson and C Jeff Withey defend the paint as well as any pair in the country. Kansas blocks 5.6 shots per game as a team. Opponents have shot just 77-for-224 (34.4 percent) against Kansas in the tournament. Offensively, the Jayhawks are shooting 47.6 percent for the season, 22nd nationally. Kansas is a solid rebounding team with a plus-5.6 margin for the season.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes are as good offensively around the basket as any team in the country. Sullinger and Thomas are strong and creative with the ball. For the season, Ohio State is shooting 48 percent from the floor. The Buckeyes’ 55.7 rebound percentage is sixth nationally and their 75.2 percent defensive rebound percentage is second. They own a plus-7.7 rebounding margin and a plus-3 turnover margin and a 1.25-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Ohio State has gotten to the foul line 803 times. OSU forced 18 turnovers in December’s loss to Kansas.
Why Each Team is Vulnerable
Kansas: Until scoring 80 points in the win over Carolina, the Jayhawks were averaging just 62.5 points and shot just 40.6 percent from the floor in the three victories. Kansas has almost no frontcourt depth, which could be a concern against the active Buckeyes. For the season, KU turns the ball over 13 times per game.
Ohio State: Although Buford, Thomas and Aaron Craft are capable perimeter shooters, OSU is not a great 3-point shooting team. They are shooting just 33.3 percent from behind the arc and score just 20.1 percent of their points from deep. The Buckeyes also allowed opponents to make over six 3s per game. Despite decent size, Ohio State is not great in the paint defensively.
The Bottom Line: Robinson will be a handful, but the Buckeyes will pull away for a comfortable win.
The Pick: Ohio State 71, Kansas 62
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 207-161-6