Saturday March 31 8:45 p.m. EST on CBS
NCAA Basketball Spread: Ohio State -2.5
Ohio State started the season as one of the nation’s top teams. The Buckeyes have had a roller coaster ride of a season, but they are playing their best basketball of the season when it counts most. Ohio State earned its first trip to the Final Four since 2007. Kansas wasn’t expected to be in the Final Four this year, but Bill Self has done a tremendous coaching job this year. Thomas Robinson and the Jayhawks showed what they are capable of in the last few minutes of their win over North Carolina on Sunday. Which national power will play in the NCAA Championship Game?
Ohio State knocked off a couple Big East opponents last weekend when they took down Cincinnati and Syracuse. The Buckeyes have had numerous guys step up through their first four tournament games. Jared Sullinger is the best player on this team, and he has been great in the last couple games. Sullinger scored 23 points and grabbed 11 boards against Cincinnati, and he scored 16 points in the second half of the win over Syracuse. Aaron Craft is one of those guys you just have to love because of the way he plays. Craft is an excellent point guard who gives it his all on every single play. There isn’t a better on the ball defender in college basketball. Craft has 13 steals in the Buckeyes four tournament games.
Deshaun Thomas is instant offense for the Buckeyes, and he can score in a variety of ways. I think he’ll be a tough matchup for the Jayhawks. The most unlikely leader for Ohio State during the tournament has been Lenzelle Smith Jr. Smith has constantly come up with huge plays when his team needs it the most this season. Ohio State needs William Buford to heat up. Buford has the potential to light it up, but he has been cold of late. The Buckeyes only allow 59.7 points per game.
Thomas Robinson is a Player of the Year candidate and he has put the Jayhawks on his back this year. Robinson averages 17.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. How consistent has Robinson been this year? He has scored at least nine points in every game the Jayhawks have played this season. He has also grabbed at least seven rebounds in every game this year. Tyshawn Taylor is a talented point guard for the Jayhawks. He averages 16.6 points per game. Taylor has been turning the ball over too much lately. He has eight turnovers in the last two games, and he’ll need to be careful with Craft on him in this one.
Bill Self loves the “glue guys” on this team. Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford both fit the bill. These are guys who do whatever it takes to win. Both of them play terrific defense and score whenever the team needs it most. Jeff Withey is a terrific shot blocker at the back of the defense for Kansas. He’ll need to be active in this one against an ultra-talented Buckeyes offense. Withey has 129 blocked shots on the season. Opponents shoot just 38% against Kansas.
The matchup between Jared Sullinger and Thomas Robinson should be a great one. I think Ohio State has more balance on the offensive end, and I think the Buckeyes will make their way into the title game.
Free College Basketball Pick: Ohio State -2.5
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