Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Can Kentucky Slow Down The Ohio State Freight Train?

While Kansas is the NCAA basketball favorite to cut down the nets in Houston, it is Ohio State who has been the most impressive team in the Tournament so far, and their three-point shooting has been light out. However, in the Sweet Sixteen they’ll face a Kentucky team that may be the most athletic team they’ve seen all season.

The Buckeyes have hit a remarkable 28 of their 50 three-point attempts in routs over Texas-San Antonio and George Mason, as freshman Jared Sullinger demands so much attention in the paint that the opposition couldn’t get back out in time against the three-point shooters like Jon Diebler, William Buford and David Lighty, who hit all seven of his attempts beyond the arc against George Mason. But neither of those teams have the size and athleticism of the Wildcats, who can match up with Ohio State. Josh Harrelson is big enough to bang with Sullinger down in the paint and that can limit any double teams, and on the perimeter, the Wildcats have Brandon Wright, Darius Miller, Doron Lamb and DeAndre Liggins to harass the gunners. Even Terrence Jones can get out and challenge the Ohio State three-point shooters.

The big question will be, does Kentucky have the discipline to stick with whatever gameplan coach John Calipari cooks up? The Wildcats are very young, as usual, with four freshmen playing significant roles, while the Buckeyes have some upper-class experience to mix in with their freshmen. The Wildcats can’t just rely on their athleticism against the Buckeyes, although it helps to have more than the other teams that Ohio State has faced. This is a fascinating matchup of styles (fundamentals against athleticism), and this clash between Kentucky and Ohio State has the potential to be the best game of the Sweet Sixteen.

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