Ohio State Buckeyes 25-9, 10-8
The Buckeyes are a part of the field for the 30th time in program history. Their consecutive appearance streak is now at six. They’ve won multiple games in each year of this stretch except for the first. Last year they advanced to the Elite Eight with DeShaun Thomas leading the way. This is now junior forwad LaQuinton Ross’ team and he has thrived in the featured role, scoring 15.4 points and grabbing 6.1 rebounds a game, both of which are team highs. The Buckeyes have a top-ranked defense that only allows 59 points a game on 40 percent shooting from the field and 28 percent from deep. Senior point guard Aaron Craft is the heart and soul of their defense, setting the tone for the way the team plays on that end of the floor. He’s averaging 2.5 steals a game this season, which is ninth in the country. He’s also the team’s leading playmaker with 4.5 assists a night. The Buckeyes’ strength of schedule was ranked 21st and they picked up six wins against the RPI top 50 while losing five to teams in the same range. They have to be pleased that they’re done facing Penn State this year. The Nittany Lions were just 15-17 this year, but they managed to sweep the regular season series against the Buckeyes. With another capable scoring threat the Buckeyes could possibly make some serious noise, but Thad Mata and his team know what it takes to win in March. They’re very experienced, with only three underclassmen on the roster.
Dayton Flyers 23-10, 10-6
The Flyers are back in the tournament after a four season drought. This is their 15th appearance all-time. They earned an at-large bid by playing the 54th most difficult schedule in the country. They went 10-7 against the RPI top 100 with their best wins coming against Gonzaga, George Washington, Massachusetts and Saint Louis. They have a 10-2 record since February, with both losses coming to St. Joseph’s, but there’s no chance of seeing them again unless they both emerge from their respective regions. They Flyers are a deep team with four players (Jordan Sibert, Devin Oliver, Dyshawn Pierre and Vee Sanford) averaging at least 9.9 points, but none more than 12.5. They score 73 points a night on average on 46 percent shooting from the field and 37 percent from distance, where they make 6.5 a game. They’re a good rebounding team, winning the battle of the boards by 4.3 a night. They’re just an average team defensively, allowing 67 points a night on 44 percent shooting, which was outside of the top 200 nationally. They’ve won just one tournament game since 1990. Their balance offensively will make them difficult to game plan against, but unfortunately for the Flyers they’ve drawn one of the premier defensive teams in the field, which doesn’t bode well for their hopes of surviving and advancing.
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