The Final Four is finally here. Second-seeds collide in one national semifinal as the Ohio State Buckeyes will take on the Kansas Jayhawks. The game is slated for an 8:49 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on CBS. Currently the odds for this game have Ohio State favored by 2.5 points with the total for the game sitting at 136 points.
Free Analysis: In what is being called "the other game" at the Final Four this year, Ohio State and Kansas will collide for the right to play for a national championship. It's the second game of the night, which shouldn't be too difficult for either team to gear up for — both the Buckeyes and Jayhawks played most of their NCAA Tournament games later in the day. This game has many story lines as well, with a pair of All-Americans going head-to-head in Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Kansas' Thomas Robinson. We also get to see a rematch of a game played much earlier in the season, one that the Jayhawks won 78-67 when Sullinger was sidelined with a back issue. Robinson had a dominating performance in that one, going for 21 points and seven rebounds. Both Sullinger and Robinson were probably first round picks, with Sullinger being a sure Lottery selection last season, but each decided to return to school for a chance like they will have Saturday. Ohio State was eliminated from the tournament last season when they were a No. 1 seed. This year they drew a No. 2 seed in the tournament, but none of that really matters now. "I wanted to make a statement, that not everybody is using college basketball as a pit stop to go the next level," Sullinger said of coming back for his sophomore season. "That there's more than money and endorsements. There's championships that you've got to win at every level. That's what I pride myself on. I've won a championship all the way from elementary to now. I pride myself on winning. That's the biggest thing. That's why I came back." Robinson also decided to come back because of playing in a position like this. In most of his first two season, Robinson played limited minutes behind the Morris twins, Markieff and Marcus. "It was a pride issue," Robinson said. "I didn't want people to guess and be like, `I think he can play. We've seen glimpses.' I wanted to come back and prove to everybody that I'm a good player." So here we have it. The two superstar players are ready to go, and both teams had no hiccups getting to the Final Four. Ohio State beat tournament regulars Gonzaga, Cincinnati and Syracuse to reach the Final Four. Kansas knocked off Purdue, NC State and arguably the tournament favorite heading into the season in North Carolina. Both teams are currently sitting on 31 wins this season. Aside from the bigtime matchup in the post, the game has other intriguing matchups as well. Defensive point guard Aaron Craft of Ohio State will battle again with Tyshawn Taylor of Kansas. In the first game, Taylor had 13 assists. Craft added 11 points and six assists in the loss, which was the first of the season for the Buckeyes and their only loss out of conference this year. There's a lot of talk between Kentucky coach John Calipari and Louisville coach Rick Pitino, but this matchup pits two coaches with great story lines together as well. Bill Self won a national title at Kansas in 2008, beating Memphis. Thad Matta has helped restore the Buckeye program that was hit with a major scandal under Jim O'Brien. The schools have 24 Final Four appearances overall between them. Deshaun Thomas is going to prove to be a major factor in this game. He's a shoot-first wing player but has the ability to play at multiple spots on the floor. His shooting ability, paired with William Buford, could pose to be a big deal for the Kansas defense. Thomas has averaged just under 22 points per game in the tournament while Buford has hit for 33 percent of his triples in the tournament. Kansas big man Jeff Withey is going to be important as well. He hasn't scored a lot in the tournament, but his defensive presence alone is going to be huge for the Jayhawks. Ohio State can run and they can play a slow-down game, running their half-court offense. I think they win this game.
Free Pick: Give me the Buckeyes in this game. I think they are a better club all around and they are playing at a higher level, in my opinion. Kansas beat North Carolina in the Elite Eight, but they did so without Carolina PG Kendall Marshall. I can assure you that Craft playing is a major factor in this contest. Kansas is going to want to run a half-court offensive set, and Ohio State can defend that. What the Buckeyes will have to be weary of is their shoot-first personality. Sullinger, Buford and Thomas are all guys that look to get their shots before necessarily looking for teammates. If they can knock down open looks, it's going to force Kansas' defense to hedge out, which should allow the Buckeyes to score inside. I think that happens in this game.
Free Picks: Kansas vs Ohio State Betting
Two of the top four defensive teams in NCAA and Will sight lines be a factor for these teams in the dome plus other factors college football bettors need to know about Kansas vs Ohio State (Saturday, March 31, 2012) from Pregame.com - Including predictions from Bryan Leonard and analysis from host Vegas Runner.