The Elite 8 begins on Saturday evening in the East Regional Finals. The two-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes take on the top-seeded Syracuse Orange. The game is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on CBS. Currently the odds have the second-seeded Buckeyes favored by 3 points with the total sitting at 135.5 points.
Free Analysis: The Buckeyes and Orange will meet up tonight in the second game played in the Elite 8 after Louisville and Florida square off a few hours before. The common team both have played recently is Cincinnati. The Orange lost to Cincy in the Big East Tournament 71-68 a few weeks ago. Ohio State beat up the Bearcats in every facet of the game on Thursday night, picking up an 81-66 win in the Sweet 16. Syracuse is known for playing its patented 2/3 zone defense, and the old adage among coaches is to play a zone defense against a zone defensive team. To me that doesn't always seem like a smart idea, seeing as it causes you to make too many changes prior to game time. Ohio State has pretty good shooters from the 3-point area, especially William Buford, which could pose problems for Syracuse in this game. If Thad Matta and the Buckeyes take anything away from Syracuse's win over Wisconsin in the Sweet 16, it's that the Orange's defense is beatable. The Badgers connected on 14 of 27 3-point attempts, keeping them in the game and nearly winning it for them at the end. Ohio State made eight triples against Cincinnati on Thursday and while that just might be enough against Syracuse, I'm sure they'd like to hit more to feel comfortable in this contest. DeShaun Thomas is going to be a very important asset to the Buckeyes in this game. He's hit for more than 53 percent of his shots from the 3-point line this season and also brings versatility with an inside presence as well. Jared Sullinger and Thomas combined for 49 points and 18 rebounds in the team's win over Cincinnati. Those rebounds should and probably will be a big deal tonight, because on paper it's the biggest thing that separates these two teams from each other. Ohio State is a big, bruising type of team that rebounds the ball well, holding an advantage of nearly 8 boards per game against their opponents. Syracuse, on the other hand, is one of the few great teams in the country that actually gets out-rebounded on average per game. We all know about Fab Melo not being able to play in the NCAA Tournament, but it's seemed as if freshman Rakeem Christmas and sophomore Baye Keita have done a pretty good job in his absence. The two have combined for 22 points and 25 rebounds in the three tournament games. Now, Melo would probably have bigger numbers but it's hard to argue against both of them stepping up. Ohio State is trying to get to the Final Four for the 10th time — 1999 was vacated for NCAA violations — with its last appearance in 2007. Hard to believe with all of the great players Matta has gotten at Ohio State in his tenure there. Syracuse, on the other hand, is looking for its fifth trip to the Final Four and first since the Orange won their only national championship in 2003, in New Orleans.
Free Pick: This game is going to be a pretty tough one, in my opinion. Scoop Jardine and the Syracuse backcourt are going to be able to score points against Ohio State, I think. The question to me is which player does Aaron Craft guard? Will he play on the ball with Jardine or match up with someone else? Jardine is probably the safe bet there. I like Ohio State inside because I think Syracuse is soft inside without Melo being on the floor. The Orange have every bit at much talent as Ohio State but I think inside the Buckeyes have an edge. Who is going to body up on Sullinger in this game? Huge matchup there. Plus, with how Ohio State can knock down 3-pointers, it might force Syracuse to hedge out and get a hand up, allowing Ohio State to get one-on-one coverage inside.
Free Picks: Florida vs Louisville - Best Bet from Marco DAngelohttp://PregameVideos.com - Fatigue will be factor in total score and Florida has had easiest road to elite 8 plus other factors college basketball bettors need to know about Florida vs Louisville (Saturday, March 24, 2012) from Pregame.com - Including a best bet from Marco D'Angelo and analysis from Scott Spreitzer.