Kansas Jayhawks vs. Ohio State Buckeyes -2.5 — National Semifinal #2
Wow…. If only all “other” games could be this good, right? The attention and focus nationally (and in the Bluegrass State) might be on Kentucky v Louisville, Ohio State taking on Kansas in the Final Four has the potential to be the best game of the entire season. You wouldn’t know it from the media coverage but these are actually two of the best teams in the country, legit threats to win a National Championship with Lottery picks on their roster as well as First Team All-Americans.
Through in the pedigree and tradition of the two school and programs; Wilt to Danny Manning to the dominant teams of the 90’s and now. Havlichek and Lucas to the Greg Oden teams and the perennial Top Ten teams of Thad Motta. It really doesn’t get much better than this, and we haven’t even begun talking about the matchup of the two best power forwards in the country – two legit college superstars in Thomas Robinson and Jared Sullinger. Tonight is going to be absolutely fantastic.
But which team has the edge in tonight’s second Final Four matchup? Let’s dig in and see where the wagering advantage lies…
Kansas is somewhat fortunate to be alive in the tourney, however, that is not necessarily a precedent that bad things are to come (see: Tyus Edney’s second round miracle to advance UCLA. Who eventually won the whole thing). But it is a slight concern, simply in the manner in which they have been slow to contain opponent’s most dominant player. In the second round it was Purdue’s Robbie Hummel who nearly single-handedly willed the Boilers to the Sweet Sixteen. In the next round, NC State’s CJ Leslie was able to be exceptionally productive as well.
If the Jayhawks are not able to keep Sullinger from scoring on the block without double teaming, they could find themselves in similar difficulties. Much of the responsibility will fall on Jeff Withey, not Robinson as many assume. Withey has been somewhat of a revelation this season, and blocked ten shots in a tourney game already, one shy of the all-time tourney record, but might have some foot speed issues tracking Sullinger (who isn’t exceptionally fleet, but is quicker than Withey).
I think both Sully and T-Rob will get their points and be effective. To me, the fulcrum this game balances on will be the on-ball defensive pressure of Aaron Craft. I think he will be effective in limiting Tyshawn Taylor’s effectiveness, essentially cutting one head off the Kansas two-headed offensive attack. Outside of Taylor and T-Rob, the offense gets a little thin. Elijah Johnson averages 10 ppg, but does it on 42% shooting. Withey averages around nine, and then we drop off.
Ohio State has more offensive diversity and more way to beat teams. I think that, and the steadying influence and floor leadership of Aaron Craft are the difference today.
It should be a great game, but I still like the Buckeyes to cover as the line is just 2.5.
Free Pick: Ohio State Buckeyes -2.5