NCAA Tournament 2012: Stars Do Not Align for Orange as Ohio State Moves Forward

Andrew PreglerContributor IIIMarch 25, 2012

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 24:  Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates after defeating the Syracuse Orange during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional Final at TD Garden on March 24, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

There was still a sliver of hope for the Orange as the clock ticked down. Five points is still a margin that can be recovered within a minute left of the game. But in the end, Ohio State's dominance was from start to finish. 

The Buckeyes had Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft to lead Ohio State to victory, but at the end of the day, two key factors led to a Final Four berth for the Buckeyes. 

First, the Buckeye bench surpassed all expectations and hung with the Orange when Sullinger was in early foul trouble and Lenzelle Smith Jr. was being stitched up after a collision with Brandon Triche. 

From this point until the beginning of the second half, the Orange had to contend with the Buckeye bench, a matchup that should have favored Syracuse. The Orange were supposedly the deeper team, however, the half ended tied. 

Dion Waiters and James Southerland struggled off the bench and as a result, Syracuse was unable to pull away from Ohio State even though Sullinger was not even on the floor. This huge push from the Ohio State bench allowed for the Buckeyes to hang tight and gather momentum after the half. 

The second aspect that affected the game were the officials. Syracuse really has no room to talk after calls going their way in the opening-round win over UNC-Asheville, but both teams struggled with the referees. 

There were so many fouls that both teams struggled to find an effective strategy. Ironically, Syracuse had the free-throw advantage percentage wise, but the 31 freebies that Ohio State made were too much for the Orange. For the fans, this game was far too dominated by referees, but both teams were equal in both questionable calls and nitpicking fouls. 

Overall, the Buckeyes had this game in their control from start to finish and deserved the win, sending the Orange home after a tumultuous season and Ohio State back to the Final Four, seeking their first national title since 1960.