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Breaking Down the Big Ten NCAA Tournament Matchups Round of 4 – Saturday Games

The Field of 68 is now down to 4, with Ohio State defeating Syracuse to make the Final Four.

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

click here.

For each of the Final Four 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 Final Four game.

#2 Ohio State (31-7) (13-5 Big Ten) vs. #2 Kansas (31-6) (16-2 Big 12)

Game Time: 8:49 PM EST (approx) on Saturday.


Winner Plays: #1 Kentucky/#4 Louisville (on Monday)

Ohio State: Last weekend, Ohio State beat in-state rival Cincinnati by 15 in Boston. They also beat the Fab Melo-less Syracuse Orange by 7, despite being outscored 28-20 for points in the paint. 5-star center Jared Sullinger (17.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 53.1 Field Goal Shooting Percentage), 5-star forward Deshaun Thomas (16.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 53.0 Field Goal Shooting Percentage), and 5-star guard William Buford (14.4 PPG, 2.7 APG, and 82.6 Free Throw Shooting Percentage) have led Ohio State this season.

Kansas: Kansas, playing in the Midwest Regional in St. Louis, beat 11-seed North Carolina State on Friday and 1-seed North Carolina on Sunday. Kansas has won 13 of their last 14 games. They are 12-6 against NCAA Tournament teams. All-American 4-star forward Thomas Robinson (17.7 PPG, 11.8 RPG, and 51.2 Field Goal Percentage), 4-star guard Tyshawn Taylor (16.7, PPG, 4.7 APG, and 48.2 Field Goal Shooting Percentage), and 4-star center Jeff Withey (transfer from Arizona) (9.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 54.8 Field Goal Shooting Percentage) led Kansas to the regular season title in the Big 12.

My Take: Ohio State beat Syracuse in the rebounding game, 39-26. The rebounding difference is a reason why the Buckeyes are in the Final Four. Ohio State is 10-3 in their last 13 games, with each loss coming by single digits (last double digit loss was on February 11th, at home to Michigan State). The only other double-digit loss for Ohio State was to Kansas, when the Buckeyes were without Sullinger. The teams are virtually even in rebounding, as well as in points per game and field goal shooting percentage. So what separates the teams? Depth. The starting five for Ohio State average 30.5 minutes per game, with Buford leading the way with 33.8 (Aaron Craft averages 32 minutes per game). Similarly, the starting five for Kansas average 30.4 minutes per game, with Taylor leading the way with 33.2 (Elijah Johnson averages 32.2 minutes per game). But three of Kansas players which come off the bench are averaging eight or more minutes per game (they average 10.5 PPG), Ohio State has two (they average 3.3 PPG). I like Kansas’ depth, especially if/when each team ends up in foul trouble.

The Pick: Kansas +3.

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