Preview: #2 Ohio State vs. #9 Wichita State

By Kyle Rowland on March 30, 2013 at 9:00a
49 Comments
If olive oil is made from olives what is baby oil made of?
Ohio State Buckeyes #2 Ohio State 29-7, 13-5 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 7:05 PM ET - CBS —— Staples Center Los Angeles, CA Wichita State Shockers #9 Wichita state 29-8, 12-6 MVC Roster | Schedule

Dating to the 2006 NCAA Tournament, so-called mid-major programs have advanced to the Final Four on four separate occasions. Twice they’ve played for the national championship. Wichita State hopes to add its name to that list in 2013.

The Shockers have traversed their tourney field with relative ease, winning three games by a combined 36 points. They went to the 1965 Final Four and are poised to return.

“They play so well, but just like Cinderella, when the clock strikes 12, everything disappears and the magic goes away,” said Ohio State guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. “We want to be that clock that strikes and they turn back into a normal team.”

Not many – and by not many, I mean no one – predicted ninth-seeded Wichita State to get this far. They had to get past No. 1 seed Gonzaga en route and then another high seed after that. At least that was the thinking. The West Region followed no script, though.

The 4 and 5 seeds both lost in the first round, clearing Wichita State’s path after it defeated the Zags in the second round. No. 13 seed La Salle offered little resistance for Wichita State’s high-powered offense.

Needless to say, the Shockers have the Buckeyes’ full attention.

“I think sometimes early on that teams can get caught by surprise,” said Ohio State forward Sam Thompson. “Sometimes anything can happen in the tournament.

“Wichita State has won three games in a row in this tournament and they really made their mark on this tournament. They knocked out Gonzaga, the No. 1 team in the country for a few weeks at the end of the season, so we know that they are here to play.”

Opponent

If you like a fast-paced brand of basketball, be sure to tune into the West Regional final. Wichita State will employ an up-tempo style at both ends of the court – running down the floor quickly on offense and utilizing a press on defense. The goal is to fluster Ohio State and take it out of its comfort zone.

It’s a gamble considering the Buckeyes’ small lineup has been a catalyst during their current 11-game win streak.

“What we have to do is, don’t let their angriness affect us,” Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas said. “Don’t play into their hands. Don’t let them speed us up because that’s what they’re going to try to do. We know they’re going to come out aggressive, pressing, and try to do anything to make us throw the ball away.”

The style was effective in the Shockers’ 72-58 Sweet 16 win over La Salle. Wichita State dictated the pace from the outset, and the game was never close because of it.

Key Wins

Team Leaders

  • Scoring: Cleanthony Early (13.7)
  • Rebounds: Carl Hall (7.0)
  • Assists: Malcolm Armstead (4.0)
  • Steals: Malcolm Armstead (1.9)
  • Blocks: Carl Hall (1.6)

Senior forward Carl Hall led the charge against the Explorers, scoring 16 points and grabbing eight rebounds, helping propel Wichita State to its first Elite Eight since 1981.

“The goal is to try to get to Atlanta,” guard Malcolm Armstead said. “This is a dream come true and now it’s 40 minutes away.”

The Shockers are the Cinderella of the tournament now that Florida Gulf Coast has been dispatched. Wichita State is trying to join the likes of George Mason, Butler and VCU as teams from outside the power conferences to venture to a forbidden land – the Final Four.

Count Ohio State among the teams that Wichita State has won over. It beat three NCAA Tournament teams this season prior to running roughshod over three straight teams in the Big Dance.

“They definitely deserve to be here,” Aaron Craft said. “If someone doesn’t think they do, I don’t know what they’re watching.”

Craft has been sensational throughout the month of March, and he’ll have to perform at a high level again on Saturday. He has 18 assists and nine steals in three tournament games.

The defensive ace will find himself matched against Armstead, who averages 10.8 points, four assists and 1.9 steals per game. The Shockers are shooting at an impressive 44.6 percent clip during the NCAA Tournament.

The increased offensive output has coincided with the return of guard Ron Baker. He’s scoring 12 points a game and shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and 43 percent from beyond the arc – absurd numbers.

“We’ve been challenged to score all year long, but we get Ron Baker going now, and he’s a difference maker,” said Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall said. “He’s a shot maker. Ron Baker the shot maker.”

It may only be 40 minutes that separate another mid-major from the Final Four. But the team behind that final curtain isn’t a paper tiger.

“We’re just trying to make history,” Wichita State guard Demetric Williams said. “We know what we’re capable of. We look at each other as a team that can be in the national championship game.”

Buckeye Breakdown

Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross have played the role of hero in the past two games. But during Ohio State’s NCAA Tournament run, Deshaun Thomas has been the offensive spark plug once again.

Thomas entered the national consciousness last season by averaging almost 20 points a game during the tournament. This season, that number has risen to 22 points – 66 points in three games. He’s shooting 55 percent from the floor, this after an extended slump entering the tournament.

“I can go 0-for-10, but I am going to keep shooting,” Thomas said. “That’s the mentality because I know I am going to get on a hot streak. That’s a scorer’s mentality. Every good scorer, you can’t just stop shooting because it's bad shots. You have to be aggressive because a great scorer can get hot at any moment.”

It’s that ability to hit unlikely shots that earned the praise of Marshall.

“I say this as a compliment,” he said, “He is a bad-shot taker and a bad-shot maker. That’s hard to do, but that’s how talented he is. He can take bad shots and make them. What we have to do is make him take bad shots and hopefully miss.”

Thomas has long been known for taking questionable shots. He admitted as much last week. But the rim is too inviting. With his penchant for scoring, though, sometimes a “bad” shot from Thomas is more high-percentage than any shot from someone else on the team.

And it’s not just shooting the basketball. Thomas can hit acrobatic off-balance floaters, draw contact and get offensive rebounds. He’s an all-around offensive tour de force.

Get Smart

  • OSU is 3-1 all-time vs Wichita State.
  • The Buckeyes' only trip to consecutive Final Fours occurred from 1960-62.
  • Ohio State is 5-2 all-time in the West Region.
  • Four Bucks average more than 10 points per game in the tournament: Thomas, Thompson, Craft and Ross.
  • Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and Len Elmore have the call.

“It was always natural growing up,” Thomas said. "Me in third grade, always scoring, playing against people older, my size, scoring against them. I always had a knack for the ball. When I got in high school, I had the green light, played every position, took every shot, took every bad shot. So I had a knack of scoring the ball all my life.”

That game has turned into an all-around complete set of skills. Matta used to refer to Thomas as “Shaun,” saying there was no “D.” That isn’t the case anymore.

Thomas actually gets offended when he hears people criticize his defense or effort.

“I think the thing that I get the most excited about is when he gets pumped up about getting a charge or being in the right position on defense or making the extra pass, stuff that he really wasn't doing when he first got here,” said point guard Aaron Craft. “It really shows his hard work. He’s listening. He wants to learn. He’s not doing it perfect, but he’s trying his best, and that's all we can ask.”

Limiting Thomas’s touches is the No. 1 game plan for Wichita State, Marshall said. That’s easier said than done. Thomas has a knack for getting up shots, even when the defense is stifling. And on off shooting nights, he wills himself near the 20-point mark, mostly by getting himself to the free-throw line.

“In basketball, you can be out there thinking like, ‘Dang, I’m going to get a good shot and then be like, I should’ve passed it,’ and the next thing you know, I just go to the next play,” Thomas said. “That’s what you got to do as a basketball player.

“I don’t really get mad because I passed it. But coaches sometimes get mad that I passed up an open shot. Even in practice or during the games Coach Dickerson’s like, ‘No, you got to shoot that’ if I pass it.”

If he has the ball in his hands with the clock running down, rest assured, it will be airborne. 


# Name YR HT/WT PTS REB ASST P # Name YR HT/WT PTS REB ASST
4 A. Craft JR 6-2/190 10.1 3.5 4.7 G 2 M. Armstead SR 6-0/205 10.8 3.8 4.0
32 L. Smith Jr. JR 6-4/205 9.3 4.9 1.5 G 31 R. Baker FR 6-3/218 8.6 2.9 1.9
12 S. Thompson SO 6-7/190 7.9 3.6 1.0 F 32 T. Cotton SO 6-2/202 6.3 3.9 1.7
1 D. Thomas JR 6-7/225 19.7 6.0 1.3 F 22 C. Hall SR 6-8/238 12.7 7.0 0.7
23 A. Williams SO 6-11/250 3.6 3.9 0.1 C 21 E. Orukpe SR 7-0/250 2.7 4.5 0.2

 

49 Comments

Comments

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great article Kyle!  The picture fits great.  If we can get our Buckeye shooters going then it is off to the Final Four!  I'm liking out chances, just got to come out and apply tough defense like the guys can do. 
Let's go Bucks, on to the Final Four!!!

Menexenus's picture

Love the picture at the top!  :-)

Real fans stay for Carmen.

BuckeyeUro's picture

Whoever photoshoped this picture is a genius!!

Grant Edgell's picture

I did the original but can't take credit for the idea. Someone commented earlier in the week that it should get done so I ran with. Jason or one of the 11W guys quite nicely added the "L.A NOIRE" to it.
Thanks for the kind words.

SilverBulletNYC's picture

Great job, man! Favorite poster so far...

The South will NOT rise again!

dubjayfootball90's picture

have to agree, that is pretty awesome

BuckeyeUro's picture

Love your work, man. Great pick for the player facial expressions!!Couldn’t tell if those where fake or real!!

Grant Edgell's picture

Thanks all. Fun stuff.

CALPOPPY's picture

Pretty awesome. I laughed pretty good. I like how Craft s peeking around the corner but Q is breaking the fourth wall.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

dubjayfootball90's picture

So Q is a junior and he has 1 year left should he come back? or does going down to Mississippi (was it mississippi?) classify him as a sophomore right now?

SilverBulletNYC's picture

Q is a sophomore. 

The South will NOT rise again!

okiebuck's picture

I've seen WSU a few times before the tournament and they are pretty solid. That said, even though The Valley is a good conference it is nowhere near the level of the B1G night in and night out. I think this game could either be a repeat of the last two games or we win by 10+. I just think our battle tested Buckeyes come out on top and head to Hotlanta.  

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

ATXbucknut's picture

Do us proud, Bucks.  And prove Barkley wrong.

mwbri's picture

Over here you can put a happy tree, or vapid basketball pundit.  It is your painting, your world, you can do whatever want.

KBonay's picture

You, sir, are the winner in my book.

Bucks43201's picture

That pic at the top is awesome!

ATX's pic is hilarious too

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

gravey's picture

Surprised no breakdown on their big man vs. our big men.  He's looked better recently than his stats indicate.

Kyle Rowland's picture

Ohio State won't be playing its big men today.

AngelHeartsBuckeyes's picture

Lol at SI.com for saying the key to the Bucks win is from their big men.

Buckeye born and bred. Buckeye til I'm dead.

RBuck's picture

All I hear and read about is how good their bigs are; yet there two big men starters are  6'8". Small line-up for the Bucks is a smart move. Good call Kyle.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

Kyle Rowland's picture

Wichita State has a 7-footer, but if you look at his stats he hasn't really done a whole lot this season. Obviously that could change today. But I don't think he'll be a major factor. 6-8 and 6-7 guys will have impact, but I wouldn't consider them bigs.

buckz4evr's picture

What's with the mouse over from the top pic?  "If olive oil is made from olives, what is baby oil made of?"  lol

JakeBuckeye's picture

I'll be in Staples tonight ladies and gentlemen! Anybody joining me? The nerves are kicking in.

OSUgrunt0311's picture

Hell ya be loud and proud

Brutus's picture

Enjoy Jake.  Represent us well.  I spent Thursday night shopping for tickets and was about ready to pull the trigger, but then the reality of having to do a 10+ hr round trip drive from the bay area to LA all in the same day set in.  I'm bummed not to be there but if we win tonight, that will all go away.

KBonay's picture

I see you are in OC as well?  Where about?  Will probably hit Yardhouse for a beer or three before tip.
Go Bucks!

AngelHeartsBuckeyes's picture

Re-watching the B1G tourney game with Wisky. That seems like light years ago for some reason.

Buckeye born and bred. Buckeye til I'm dead.

RBuck's picture

I-O

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

The press doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy. Arizona gave us fits on in bound plays and traps. I think we may see Scott a little more than usual.

ih8rolltyde's picture

I agree the press has me a little concerned; however, if and when we break it.... Look out below- it's Slam Thompson!!!!!!

****igan smells like old water that hot dogs were boiled in.  FACT

buck-I.8's picture

This is the first game I'll be watching sober since the B1G tourney, hope my heart can take it

OSUgrunt0311's picture

the open thread picture is classic. awesome pic... I feel even better about the game after seeing that.GO BUCKEYES!!!

DJ Byrnes's picture

I just cracked a LaBatt Ice.

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

buckeyedude's picture

Sam Adams would've been a better choice. Labatts ain't bad in a pinch though.

 

 

Defiance J's picture

I enjoy the Highlife. I expect a few down votes. Lol. 

PhillyBuckeye27's picture

I hope we can get this W - two final fours in a row would be awesome!  I think scUM plays for it all - they have nothing standing in their way from a trip to the final game.....

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Can't wait!  Is it game time yet! 
Go Bucks!

danbrown7665's picture

Ohio State has a very good chance tonight. Look for shannon scott to have a big game. Scott is a mismatch for the bigger Baker of Wichita State.
Go Buckeyes, bring it home!

"limitations, like fears are often just illusions"
-Michael Jordan, the greatest athlete of all time
 

Mr. Slick's picture

If Craft guards Armstead that leaves LSJ on 'Baker the shot maker' to start.  That is going to be the key match up.  If Scott gets more minutes bc of their pressure like many people assume then he will need to guard him tough as well.  Don't worry about Craft - but keep your eye out for who is guarding Baker.  How the coaches use their line ups for that matchup AND for the game flow is going to be very interesting.

BuckeyeChief's picture

Wayyy to much maize and blue where I am right now...I need some S&G to balance my spirit.

O H

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

buckeyedude's picture

I-O.
Where you at Chief?

 

 

BuckeyeChief's picture

Florida.

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

BrewstersMillions's picture

Not feeling great about today.  If both teams play their best game, OSU should run away with this thing and I guess its good we really haven't seen the Bucks play their best ball of the tourney. They let ISU and Zona hang around and got bailed out by improbable shots-Craft for three and Ross from international waters. Thankfully OSU has three guys scoring well in Ross, DT, and Craft-can't imagine all of them go cold. WSU isn't an offensive powerhouse but they are a tough out that should give OSU some trouble. I honestly feel 50\50 about this game.

4-6 seconds from point A to point B and when you get to point B, be pissed off

Idaho Helga's picture

Me too.  What really bugs me 1) is that there are several snippets of them and their coach saying they play like an "angry team".   Where have I heard that before from a highly successful team?
2) Of course there is the temptation to look ahead.  They have nothing to lose and that's dangerous.  Not to mention we avoided OT the last two games by the 3.  Woof!
3) If we control the pace we're ok. Wichita State has controlled the pace of their games so far. It's key.  
4) I'm also nervous about the zebras.  If they get whistle happy on our guards (our biggest advantage) its maalox time.
That being said, I'm off to the restaurant for a birthday lunch for my son (now Eagle scout!) and I made it a late lunch not a dinner because tip off here is at 4pm.  Maybe I'm a bad mom  :(.   Nah, he'll like his gift.