Final Four: #1 OSU vs. #2 Georgetown

By Chris Lauderback on March 30, 2007 at 7:07a
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odenmemphis.jpg Greggy like dunky
Ohio State Buckeyes #1 Ohio State 34-3, 15-1 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 6:07 PM ET ------ Georgia Dome Atlanta, GA Georgetown Hoyas #2 Georgetown 30-6, 13-3 Big East Roster | Schedule

Opponent: JT III's Georgetown Hoyas earned their first trip to the Final Four since 1985 overcoming an 11 point 2nd half deficit to force overtime before scoring 14 straight in OT to bury the overrated Tar Heels 96-84 in East Rutherford, NJ. While the comeback was impressive, it marked the 3rd time in four games that G-Town needed a legit 2nd half rally to avoid going home early. In the second round, Georgetown trailed BC by eight in the 2nd half before rallying for a 62-55 win behind Jeff Green's two 3-point plays in the last couple minutes. BC bogged down the G-Town offense playing mostly zone defense and held the Hoyas to 25% (4-16) on triple tries. In the Sweet 16, Vandy led by eight at the break and 65-64 with 18 seconds left before Green again saved the day, hitting the game winner on a turnaround jumper in traffic that should have been negated by a traveling call. Examining their last loss, a 72-58 whipping at Syracuse at the end of February, the Hoyas struggled mightily against 'Cuse's 2-3 zone shooting a stankola 29% from the floor (24% 3's) while sharting 19 turnovers. Sensing a trend here? These Hoyas are certainly big, physical, tough and great defenders but they have struggled at times against zone defenses. As for strengths, Georgetown is a solid shooting team hitting 50.6% from the floor, 37% from deep and 71.5% from the stripe. All 3 stats are slightly better than OSU's season numbers (47.4%, 36.9%, 70.4%). Another Hoya staple this season has been the backdoor cut. Whether in man or zone, OSU will need to be mindful of those cuts, especially when the Hoyas pass the ball into the high post, to avoid giving G-Town easy layups or putting Oden in a position to foul. Defensively, Georgetown has also used some zone and should continue that trend to keep Roy Hibbert and Green out of foul trouble.

Key Players: If you've seen the Hoyas play this year you know they feature two main weapons are 6'8" junior Jeff Green and 7'2" junior Roy Hibbert. Green serves as the Hoyas' go-to guy and leads the team in scoring at 14.4 per game along with 6.2 boards. As noted, Green has hit some big shots in big spots to get Georgetown to Atlanta and he's coming off a 22 point, 9 rebound effort against UNC. Hibbert leads the team in rebounding (6.9) and is 2nd in scoring (12.7). While many talk about his growth as a player, his numbers are almost identical to last year albeit their much better than his freshman numbers of 5.1 ppg and 3.1 rpg. Joining the big guns on the front line is 6'8 freshman DeJuan Summers. The kid averages 9.3 ppg on the season but lit up UNC for 20 points (7-10 shooting) following up a 15 point performance against Vandy. Strong numbers to be sure, but streakiness has been Summers' modus operandi this season which hopefully means a crash and burn could be forthcoming.

On the perimeter, junior Jonathan Wallace scores 11.2 ppg and shoots a team best 48.6% from deep including 9-16 on triples in the tourney. Wallace is also coming off a huge 19 point, 7 assist performance against UNC. If the Buckeyes do go zone, they'll need to keep a mark on him. Joining Wallace in the backcourt is 6'3" sophomore Jessie Sapp. He averages 9.1 ppg and had an impressive 15 point, 8 assist effort versus UNC. Sapp is a versatile player serving as the Hoyas glue guy similar to Tennessee's Dane Bradshaw. Off the pine, 6'8" Patrick Ewing Jr, point guard Jeremiah Rivers and 6'9" Vernon Macklin will also see action.

Notes: Notes: Green was Big East Player of the Year and a 3rd team AP All-American. The Hoyas held Vandy and UNC to a combined 14-48 (29%) from beyond the arc. Fred Brown, the Hoya who threw away the 1982 title game, hasn't had much good to say about Georgetown's legendary John Thompson.


Buckeye Breakdown: You know how the Buckeyes got here so I won't rehash the details. Bottom line is OSU destroyed Memphis 51-38 in the second half playing some of their best basketball of the season and come in with virtually everyone in the rotation feeling good about their performance. They'll need that confidence and contributions from players 1 through 9 to beat Georgetown and earn a spot in Monday's title tilt.

As mentioned, the game plan for stopping the Hoyas will most likely include a heavy dose of zone defense. Their past struggles are noted and keeping Oden out of foul trouble is a must. Taking it a step further, OSU might look to employ the three-quarter court 2-2-1 press on occasion to force tempo and make Georgetown run some clock in the backcourt. Georgetown runs a Princeton offense predicated on exploiting defensive breakdowns for scoring chances more so than creating 1-on-1 opportunities. If OSU can limit the amount of seconds per possession in which they are forced to defend they are more likely to limit open looks and successful back door cuts. Offensively, OSU may have to go against the Hoyas' own zone defense. It will be up to Mike Conley to make sure the Buckeyes don't settle for long threes if they have little success feeding Oden or penetrating the zone off the dribble early in the game.

Key Players: OSU could use another big night from Ron Lewis who is averaging 21.8 ppg in the tourney on the strength of 21-21 shooting at the line and 52% from the floor. Lewis has finally reverted back to his aggressive approach at the offense end using his quickness to drive the lane versus settling for too many NBA distance threes. His emergence as a scorer to complement Conley and Oden has been the key to the Final Four run. Jamar Butler could be a key player if the Hoyas take away the inside. Butler hit for 12 against Memphis and is averaging 11.3 ppg so far in the dance. Down low, Othello Hunter and Matt Turdwiggler need to help Oden on the glass. Last year, G-Town outrebounded OSU 37-24 on their way to a 70-52 beatdown. Ivan Harris should be healthier after playing just 10 minutes versus Memphis after Oden fell on his knee in the comeback win over Tennessee. Not that Harris will help much on the glass but keeping fresh bodies on the floor will be important. Daequan Cook could see more minutes because of his rebounding skills but only if he stays under control offensively, as he did in the second half against Memphis. Cook finished with 9 points, 3 boards and 2 steals against zero turnovers in 16 minutes. If and when OSU goes man, look for David Lighty to draw the assignment on Green. Lighty gives up three inches but is the only Buckeye with enough versatility to stick with Green in and out of the paint.

Notes: The Buckeyes own a national best 21 game winning streak...With 108 career points scored in the NCAA Tournament , Ron Lewis ranks 6th in school history in total points. Fox Sports' Jeff Goodman loves the Buckeye freshmen...The Hoyas are listed as a 1 point favorite, if you're in to that sort of thing.

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