Ohio State Buckeyes Team Capsule
- Conference: Big Ten
- Record: 27-7 (13-5 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 6-4
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 10-6
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Duke, Florida, Indiana, Lamar, Michigan (2), Michigan State, Purdue (2), Wisconsin
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Michigan State (2), Wisconsin
- Player to Watch: Jared Sullinger (6’9” C, So.) – 17.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 53.9 FG%
Ohio State Bottoms Line:
The Buckeyes had a somewhat disappointing season but still finished in a first-place tie for the Big Ten title and made it to the conference championship game. The quartet of Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, William Buford, and Aaron Craft do the heavy lifting for Ohio State, and they have routinely gotten little production from their bench.
Sullinger had another solid season and is a load in the post and on the glass. He consistently puts pressure on opposing defenses and boasts a solid free throw rate. Thomas has stepped up with an outstanding sophomore year, hitting over 61 percent from two-point range and scoring over 15 points per game. Buford has been somewhat inconsistent, and the Buckeyes are a different basketball team when he is on his game. The point guard position is in good hands with Craft, who has a solid assist rate and is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country.
Interestingly enough, Ohio State finished the season first in both offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom, which in some ways bodes well for their tournament hopes. They Buckeyes have really missed the shooting of Jon Diebler and David Lighty, as they are making just 32.5 percent from beyond the arc. They do rank 12th in two-point shooting percentage and take great care of the basketball. Defensively, OSU rarely allows offensive rebounds and does a nice job keeping their opponents off the line. They also rank in the Top 60 in turnover rate and effective field goal percentage defense.
Ultimately, Ohio State’s key to a deep NCAA run is the play of Buford who needs to find his shooting stroke as his final trip to the Big Dance begins.
Cincinnati Bearcats Team Capsule
- Conference: Big East
- Record: 24-10 (12-6 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 7-3
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 7-6
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Connecticut, Georgetown (2), Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Syracuse
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Louisville, Marquette, South Florida, Syracuse, West Virginia, Xavier
- Player to Watch: Yancy Gates (6’9” F, Sr.) – 12.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg
Cincinnati Bottoms Line:
Give Mick Cronin and the Bearcats a ton of credit, because after a slow start and then the brawl against Xavier, it would have been easy for Cincinnati to go in the tank. However, they fought back to finish 12-6 in the Big East and made a run to the championship of the conference tournament.
Cronin essentially uses a six-man rotation, with five of those players scoring at least 9.2 points per game. Sean Kilpatrick leads the team with 14.3 points per contest, and backcourt mates Dion Dixon and Cashmere Wright both score at least 10 points with Wright leading the team in assists and steals. On the interior, Yancy Gates is playing the best basketball of his career and finished the regular season averaging 12.4 points and 9.2 rebounds. Throw in glue guys like Jaquon Parker and Justin Jackson, and you have a solid nucleus to count on.
From an efficiency standpoint, the Bearcats have an extremely low turnover rate, and rank inside the Top 40 in offensive rebounding percentage. However, their shooting percentages are pretty ugly, and they rarely get to the free throw line. On the defensive end, they have been victimized on the offensive glass, but they rarely give opponents free points by sending them to the free throw line. After such a strong performance in the Big East Tournament, the Bearcats should have plenty of confidence heading into the Big Dance.
Syracuse Orange Team Capsule
- Conference: Big East
- Record: 31-2 (17-1 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 9-1
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 12-2
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Cincinnati, Connecticut (3), Florida, Georgetown, Louisville (2), Marquette, North Carolina State, South Florida, West Virginia
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Cincinnati, Notre Dame
- Player to Watch: Dion Waiter (6’4” G, So.) – 12.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.9 spg
Syracuse Bottoms Line:
The Orange are among the deeper teams in the country with 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game.
Kris Joseph scores 13.8 points per game to lead seven players who average at least 6.6 points. Sixth man Dion Waiters is instant offense off the bench, and he also boasts one of the top steal percentages in the country. Scoop Jardine gives the Orange a veteran at the point, and he has posted a fantastic assist rate while also hitting nearly 55 percent of his two-pointers.
The team has lost just once with big man Fab Melo in the lineup, which says a lot about how much he has improved since a disappointing freshman campaign. Melo has a high block rate and does a nice job on the offensive boards. (But, of course, Melo is out…) Fellow soph C.J. Fair has also played well of late and gives Syracuse yet another talented athlete in the frontcourt.
Overall, the Orange are in the Top 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They do a great job of taking care of the ball and have a high offensive rebounding percentage. For as good as they are on the offensive glass, Syracuse as just as bad on the defensive end. They rank 341st in defensive rebounding percentage, and they allow opponents to rebounding nearly 39 percent of their misses. Other than that, the Orange are fantastic in all facets on the defensive end.
Wisconsin Badgers Team Capsule
- Conference: Big Ten
- Record: 24-9 (12-6 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 6-4
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 6-7
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: BYU, Indiana (2), Ohio State, Purdue, UNLV
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Marquette, Michigan, Michigan State (3), North Carolina, Ohio State
- Player to Watch: Jordan Taylor (G, Sr.) – 14.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.0
Wisconsin Bottoms Line:
As has become customary, the Badgers are among the most efficient teams on the defensive end. They rank in the Top 10 in both two- and three-point defense and in the Top 50 in defensive rebounding percentage and opponents’ free throw rate. The team has struggled on offense at times, because they are very reliant on the three-point shot. The Badgers take just over 40 percent of their shots from long range, but the common theme in most of their losses has been poor three-point shooting. With a low offensive rebounding percentage and a poor free throw rate, there really isn’t a plan B when shots aren’t falling.
Despite leading the team in scoring and assists, Jordan Taylor’s season has been somewhat of a disappointment. His shooting has dropped off, and the lack of a consistent offensive threat like Jon Leuer has made it difficult for him to find room to operate. Still, his assist and turnover rates are still impressive, and he has continued to find ways to get to the free throw line. Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren both average better than 10 points and five rebounds, with Evans particularly effective on the defensive glass and Berggren able to step outside and hit threes. Josh Gasser and Ben Brust are capable long-range shooters as well, and Mike Bruesewitz has struggled with his shot but still helps out on the glass.
As usual, the Badgers are content to slow the game down and limit the number of possessions, so don’t expect them to light up the scoreboard anytime soon.