Breaking Down the Big Ten NCAA Tournament Matchups Round of 8 – Saturday Games

The Field of 68 is now down to 8, with Ohio State winning on Thursday, but Michigan State and Wisconsin falling to Big East teams.

To see the NCAA Tournament bracket, or other post-season brackets, click here.

For each of the Sweet 16 teams’ record against the spread, click here.

I’ll break down each game of the NCAA Tournament involving Big Ten teams. Today, I’ll cover Saturday’s Elite Eight game.

#2 Ohio State (30-7) (13-5 Big Ten) vs. #1 Syracuse (34-2) (17-1 Big East)

Game Time: 7:05 PM EST (approx) on Saturday.

TV: CBS.

Winner Plays: #1 North Carolina/#13 Ohio or #2 Kansas/#11 North Carolina State (on Saturday, March 31st).

Ohio State: Ohio State beat low-major Loyola (MD) on Thursday, by 19, in Pittsburgh; they also beat Gonzaga by 7, last Saturday. The Buckeyes disposed of Cincinnati 81-66, despite being down by 3 with 11 minutes remaining. 5-star center Jared Sullinger (17.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 53.0 Field Goal Shooting Percentage), 5-star forward Deshaun Thomas (16.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 53.4 Field Goal Shooting Percentage), and 5-star guard William Buford (14.4 PPG, 2.7 APG, and 83.2 Free Throw Shooting Percentage) have led Ohio State this season.

Syracuse: Syracuse, coached by Jim Boeheim, snuck by NC Asheville by 7 in their first game, one filled with controversy, but dominated Kansas State in their second game, winning by 16; both games were in Pittsburgh. They again won a close one on Thursday, edging Bo Ryan’s Badgers by 1. The Orange were the regular season champs of the Big East, but fell to Cincinnati in the Big East Tournament. Syracuse will be without 5-star center Fab Melo (7.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 56.6 Field Goal Shooting Percentage), due to eligibility issues. 3-star forward Kris Joseph (13.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 34.9 Three Point Shooting Percentage), 4-star guard Dion Waiters (12.7 PPG, 2.5 APG, and 48.1 Field Goal Shooting Percentage), and 3-star guard Brandon Triche (9.2 PPG, 2.5 APG, and 77.0 Free Throw Shooting Percentage) will need to carry to the load for Syracuse, with Melo being out.

My Take: To say Syracuse escaped with a win over the Badgers would be an understatement. Wisconsin shot 14-for-27 (51.8%) from three-point land for the game – 9-for-14 (64.3%) from three-point land in the second half. Even without Fab Melo, Syracuse still scored 30 points in the paint, a net 20-point advantage over Wisconsin. Wisconsin didn’t even attempt a field goal in the paint in the last 14 minutes. Syracuse is 33-0 when they score 20 points in the paint. The Buckeyes had 30 points in the paint against Cincinnati, with Sullinger accounting for 24 of those; Thomas had 30 points in the paint in the first two NCAA Tournament games – he’s shooting at a 55.6% clip in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 25 points per game during that stretch. Its easier said than done, but the Buckeyes need to clog the paint – Syracuse averages 34.82% from the three-point arc, compared with 46.5% from the field.

The Pick: Ohio State -2.

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