When Kansas and Ohio State meet in the battle of the remaining tournament two seeds, more than a trip to the finals will be at stake. For Ohio State, the game could spell redemption.
The Buckeyes will be looking to avenge an 11-point loss to Kansas at Phog Allen back in December. In that game, Kansas’ Thomas Robinson ran wild over the Buckeyes, scoring a game-leading 21 points. But don’t be surprised if that does not happen again.
In December Ohio State missed the post play of their superstar Jared Sullinger. Sullinger, the team’s unconditional leader, sat out the game with back spasms. Ohio State definitely missed Sullinger’s 17 points and nine rebounds per game, but more importantly they missed his defensive presence. Without Sullinger (6’9″, 265 lbs.) the Buckeyes were obviously outsized by Robinson (6’10″, 237 lbs.) and Kansas center Jeff Withey (7’0″, 235 lbs.).
But that does not mean Kansas was without injuries. Their point guard Tyshawn Taylor played through a sprained MCL and finished with a career-high 13 assists. But Taylor’s biggest contributions on Jayhawk wins usually comes from his scoring (16 points per game) rather than his passing (only 4 assists per game, just one more than his average turnovers per game).
Both teams have worked hard to get where they are, but Ohio State has faced a considerably tougher road to the final four with less drama along the way. Before beating the one seed UNC in the elite eight, Kansas had yet to play a team with a single-digit seed. Kansas followed up a 15-point win over 15-seeded Detroit with back to back nail biters against the 10-seeded Purdue and the 11-seeded North Carolina State.
Meanwhile Ohio State’s closest calls came in a pair of seven-point wins against the seven-seeded Gonzaga bulldogs and the one-seeded Syracuse Orange. They also secured blowout wins over the 15-seeded Loyola (MD) and the six-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats.
Also added to the mix is the fact that Kansas assistant coach Danny Manning agreed to be the coach of University of Tulsa basketball team this week. Though he has been at practice with the Jayhawks, his mind has not been fully devoted to the Jayhawks.
This game will come down to the battle of the bigs. Expect to see Sullinger and Robinson banging against each other on nearly every possession. Whichever can claim the paint will seal the game for his team.