NCAA Basketball Scores 2012: Ohio State Will Exploit Syracuse's Interior in Win

Justin WeltonAnalyst IIMarch 24, 2012

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 22:  Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts after a basket against Cincinnati Bearcats during their 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional Semifinal game at TD Garden on March 22, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Syracuse's loss of Fab Melo for the 2012 NCAA tournament hasn't had much of an impact en route to the Elite Eight; they've only been out-rebounded once.

Ohio State, however, is going to be the first real test for the Orange inside. Jared Sullinger and the Buckeyes will exploit the inside weakness of the Orange in a victory that will send them to the Final Four.

Melo led the Orange in rebounding with 5.8 per game. Besides his length and size in the 2-3 zone, Melo was the best rebounder on the team. 

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08:  Fab Melo #51 of the Syracuse Orange reacts against the Connecticut Huskies during the quarterfinals of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Ge
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

This is a team that isn't the best group on the boards to begin with; they are 125th in the country in rebounds per game. That's with Melo.

Syracuse will need to gang rebound against Sullinger and the Buckeyes on Saturday. The Ohio State big man has averaged 9.3 rebounds per game, and the team is 57th in the country.

Advantage Buckeyes.

Rebounding from a zone is extremely difficult. Usually, when playing man-to-man defense, the player can simply turn and box out the man they are guarding. But in a zone, it's difficult to find those players immediately after the shot goes up. This allows an aggressive team to crash the boards to create second-chance opportunities. That leads to three-pointers, put-backs and extra possessions. 

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 22:  Deshaun Thomas #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates after a play against the Cincinnati Bearcats during their 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional Semifinal game at TD Garden on March 22, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Ph
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, Williiam Buford and Lenzelle Smith Jr. are all capable of crashing the glass with a high rate of success. Syracuse won't have enough inside to handle the heat. 

Prediction: Ohio State 71, Syracuse 70

I love how Aaron Craft plays the game of basketball. He's consistently giving it 100 percent when he's on the floor, especially defensively, and he is capable of doing things offensively to help his team.

Craft has a huge game, Buford shoots well and Sullinger dominates down low in a Buckeyes victory.