Wichita State vs. Ohio State: 5 Advantages Buckeyes Have in Elite Eight Battle
The location of the West Regional final has been set in stone for quite some time now, but until Thursday night, the two teams going up against each other in Los Angeles for a berth in the Final Four were unknown.
No. 2 Ohio State became the first team to clinch its berth in the Elite Eight at the Staples Center with a last-second win over No. 6 Arizona.
Now, the focus of Thad Matta's Buckeyes shifts to the No. 9 Wichita State Shockers, who thoroughly dominated No. 13 La Salle in the Sweet 16.
The Shockers are a very talented team, but the Buckeyes have plenty of advantages over their foe from the Missouri Valley Conference.
Here are five of the Buckeyes' biggest advantages over Wichita State heading into Saturday's Elite Eight battle.
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Ohio State junior guard Aaron Craft is one of the stingiest defenders in all of college basketball, and his shutdown defense will once again be called upon on Saturday.
Craft has guarded some of the best players in college basketball this season including Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke and Keith Appling.
Against Wichita State, Craft's task will be to shut down Malcolm Armstead.
The Shockers' senior guard has been unstoppable this postseason, with four double-digit scoring performances, including the 18 he put up against La Salle on Thursday.
Armstead's contributions on offense make the Shockers a well-rounded team, and if Craft can shut down the senior guard, all the Buckeyes will have to worry about is defending the powerful paint players that Gregg Marshall's team possesses.
Depth in the Paint
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Wichita State has one of the best paint players in the nation on its roster in Carl Hall.
Against La Salle in the Sweet 16, Hall was able to easily exploit the mismatches that were presented to him.
That will not be the case against Ohio State, as the Buckeyes have three strong players that can upset the rhythm of Hall in the paint.
The trio of Evan Ravenel, Sam Thompson and Amir Williams may not put up astronomical numbers on either end of the court, but they are bodies that can get in the way of the Wichita State senior.
Thompson will be the player tasked with defending Hall from the opening tip, but both Williams and Ravenel are viable options off of the bench if Thompson either gets fatigued or finds his way into foul trouble.
If Hall gets shut down by the Ohio State trio, the only other valuable paint player that the Shockers have on their roster is Cleanthony Early, who is a player that has been inconsistent at best during the postseason.
Been There, Done That
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Most people may not remember that Ohio State made its way to the Final Four last season in New Orleans before falling to Kansas.
The Buckeyes are once again a step away from the national stage, and they will bank on last season's venture into the NCAA Tournament as they prepare for Wichita State.
Most of the same cast is still in place for this season's run toward Atlanta with Jared Sullinger and William Buford being the only players that had to be replaced.
Players like LaQuinton Ross and Shannon Scott have stepped up to fill the depth on the Buckeyes' roster this season.
With last season's Final Four appearance still fresh in their memories, the Buckeyes will be looking to get to Atlanta and go further than they did in 2012.
Stronger Perimeter Presence
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The breakout star of the 2013 NCAA tournament for the Buckeyes has been LaQuinton Ross.
The sophomore sharpshooter has scored 17 points each in his last two games, a total which includes his game-winning three against Arizona on Thursday.
Thad Matta and the rest of the Buckeye Nation were waiting for a second shooter to develop in the lineup to accompany Deshaun Thomas, and they have finally found that in Ross at the perfect time in the season.
In Big Ten play, Ross only scored in double digits four times but during the postseason a light has gone off and the sophomore is setting the tournament ablaze with his shooting.
With Ross finally hitting his stride, the Buckeyes have a second scoring threat from the perimeter who will be difficult to guard with Thomas on the court alongside him.
The 2012-13 Buckeyes Are Battle Tested
Previewing Ohio State vs. Wichita State
After being constantly beaten by their Big Ten brethren in conference play, the Buckeyes are carrying the torch for this season's best conference along with Michigan and Michigan State.
It is shocking that the Buckeyes lost seven of their first eight games this season against ranked opposition are now competing in the Elite Eight against the best teams in the nation.
Ever since the Buckeyes took down then-fourth ranked Michigan State at home on Feb. 24 they have strung together a streak of 10 consecutive wins that has seen them take down the likes of Indiana, Wisconsin and Arizona.
Whatever it is that the Buckeyes learned from their early-season losses to Duke, Kansas and Illinois, they have used to it to perfection during the final two months of the season to advance to the Elite Eight.
With another battle against Wichita State expected on Saturday, no other team has been better prepared this season than the Buckeyes to face a knock-down, drag-out fight for a spot in the Final Four.
What advantages do you think Ohio State has over Wichita State?
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