Make It Ugly
As much as I hated watching it the way the cats played against Florida State its how this team has to play to continue advancing. Particularly on defense much more than on offense. This team has to make Ohio State work their asses off just to get into the offense. UC can't play this game on the Buckeyes terms. They have to go after it.
The reason that the Buckeyes are so efficient is that the entire offense is predicated on getting within and running the offense within fifteen feet of the basket. That plays into the Bearcats hands because of how physical this team is in the middle with Yancy Gates but also increasingly Sean Kilpatrick and JaQuon Parker. If you want a cross sport analogy this team has to approach the game in the same way that the US soccer team went about beating Italy. Make it just like the FSU game. UC has shown great comfort in those situations. Make the Buckeyes show it as well.
Kila Heating Up
Sean Kilpatrick is the best player on this team. He struggled with his shot at the end of the season and was in a pretty big slump. In the tournaments, Big East and NCAA he has turned it around, particularly from deep. In the last five games he is hitting 41.68 per cent from deep. During the last five games of the regular season Kilpatrick was shooting just 15.92 per cent of his threes. I think that Kila needs to hit at 35 per cent or above for UC to win.
Defending the three point line is not something that the Buckeyes do particularly well. The Buckeye defense is built from the inside out. Aaron Craft is a tremendous on ball defender. But the rest of the Buckeyes perimeter defenders aren't nearly as proficient. The statistical result is that while opposing teams don't shoot a particularly high percentage (32.2 in Big 10 play) they do score a high percentage of their points from deep. The Buckeyes will give that shot all night. UC has to make them.
Big Night For Yancy
All of my thoughts about this match up really depend on one thing. Yancy Gates controlling the impact of Jared Sullinger. Much has been written about the improved play of the big man in March. And that has focused for the most part on his scoring and his rebounding. Going way under the radar is just how much better Yancy is playing defensively. The stats don't show it* but his defense has really picked up of late. And what is going under the radar is that Jared Sullinger is a pretty good match up for Gates on defense. Sullinger is very skilled, but he gets so much of his offense from simply carving out great position against smaller, weaker interior defenders. On paper Yancy can prevent that. In the game he has to make Sullinger a non factor. I am not calling for a shutout, but keeping him below his average will be a major boon for the Bearcats chances.
*In the tournaments Yancy is averaging 1 steal and .8 blocks per game. The steals are above average, blocks below
What's your key to the game?