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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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NCAA Sweet 16 Arizona Wildcats vs Ohio State Buckeyes

The Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament is here and we will see the Arizona Wildcats take on the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The game is scheduled for a 7:47 pm (Eastern) start time and will be televised on TBS. Currently the Odds for the game have Ohio State favored by 3.5 points while the total sits at 134.

Analysis: The second seed in the West region, Ohio State is taking part in the NCAA Tournament for the 25th time in program history and has a record of 47-23 to show for its efforts dating back to 1939. The Buckeyes, under the direction of head coach Thad Matta, last fell into the loss column back on Feb. 17 when they bowed to Wisconsin on the road, 71-49. Since then the team has rattled off several double-digit wins, and includes another successful run through the Big Ten Tournament and a title victory over those same Badgers (50-43). The Buckeyes went into the meeting with Iowa State never having lost to the Cyclones in five previous encounters and the trend continued, although it was a contentious final few minutes as OSU needed an Aaron Craft 3-pointer in the last second to bring home the victory. For Craft, who finished with 18 points and six assists, that triple was his only attempt beyond the arc in the contest. Deshaun Thomas accounted for a game-high 22 points and pulled down five boards for the Buckeyes, followed by LaQuinton Ross with 17 points off the bench in 21 minutes of action. A starter in every game this season for Ohio State, Thomas is the top scorer on the team and in the Big Ten with his 19.7 ppg. Scoring in double digits in every game in 2012-13, Thomas is now tied for second on OSU's all-time NCAA Tournament scoring list with William Buford at 162 points. Unfortunately, the only other double-digit scorer for the Buckeyes at the moment is Craft with his 10.0 ppg, which means he is just as likely to have a lackluster scoring effort as he is being an influential scorer.

Meanwhile the Wildcats, winners of this event back in 1997 against Kentucky, they have a record of 48-26 in the tourney when taking into consideration a pair of appearances that had to be vacated. One of the top squads from the Pac-12 Conference through the non-conference schedule, Arizona was seeded fourth in the conference tournament and made it all the way to the semifinals before being booted by UCLA, 66-64. Despite the defeat, the Wildcats were still awarded a No. 6 seed for the NCAA Tournament and used their high stature to take down Belmont (81-64) in the second round and then a pesky Harvard group (74-51) in the third round last Saturday. Arizona jumped all over Harvard in the third round of the tourney, delivering a 17-2 scoring run right out of the gate in order to put the Crimson in a deep hole, en route to the 23-point decision. Shooting an impressive 12-of-17 from the floor, Mark Lyons tied a career high with a game-high 27 points for Arizona, while Solomon Hill registered a double-double consisting of 13 points and a game-high 10 boards. Over the course of his 34 minutes of action, Nick Johnson was somewhat reserved as he posted seven points, six boards and four assists. Over the last 10 games the Wildcats are shooting an impressive 40.4 percent from behind the 3-point line, compared to 33.8 percent for the competition. Despite being outscored at the free-throw line in those outings, Arizona has still held a scoring edge of 8.6 ppg versus the opposition. Lyons is responsible for 15.8 ppg over the last 10, although his efforts out on the perimeter have resulted in just 28.6 percent accuracy. Hill (11.9 ppg, 5.4 ppg) and Johnson (10.2 ppg, 40 assists) have also been key figures at the offensive end of the floor.

Pick:  I like the Cats and the Under here. One of the reasons why I expect the Cats to win this one is the fact that their defense has been playing so well of late. They have allowed just 61.6 ppg on 38.6% shooting in their last 5 games and have allowed just 57.5 ppg on 33% shooting in the tourney thus far. Now don't get fooled by OSU's 173 points they have scored in the tourney thus far, as those two games were vs high tempo teams that play little defense. This will not be an uptempo game and the Buckeyes have scored just 63.4 ppg away from home on the year. This is a team that is used to the slower grind it out games and their pace rating of 221 shows that.Both teams are ranked as far as offensive efficiency, but also very high as far as defensive efficiency is concerned as well. Both teams have had a few days to prepare for this one and I feel that favors the defense and these two have played very well at that end of he floor this year. This should be a tight game and I see expect allot of walking the ball up the court the last 8 minutes or so, which should also aid in keeping the scoring down. I full expect this one to be played in the 120's.

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