The Ohio State Buckeyes are the lone Big Ten Conference representative remaining in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, and they'll look to keep it that way tonight in East Regional play against a traditional basketball powerhouse, the Kentucky Wildcats, in tonight's Sweet 16 match-up in Newark, New Jersey.
Ohio State has bulldozed their way into the Sweet 16, decimating their first two opponents by an average of 30.5 points. They knocked out Texas-San Antonio 75-46, and then defeated George Mason 98-66. Kentucky has had a slightly tougher road to Newark, defeating Princeton in the first round by a score of 59-57, and then defeating West Virginia 71-63.
SB Nation's Ohio State blog, Along the Olentangy, know that it won't be easy for the Scarlet and Gray tonight, but think their guys will be able to get the job done.
Kentucky has the athletes to compete with Ohio State at every position, but senior forward Josh Harellson and the aforementioned Terrence Jones will have to defend the mammoth Jared Sullinger. It's well-established at this point that the Buckeyes are at their best when Sullinger is playing well, and it could change the game if Harrelson and Jones can cause Sullinger trouble. While that is an obvious observation to make, it does hold truth. Sullinger's presence in the paint gives Ohio State direct access to the basket and an easy path to controlling the game.
Not to be outdone, the folks over at A Sea of Blue, SB Nation's home for all things Kentucky, they know what their team has to do to pull off the upset and move on.
Foul distribution will play a critical role in this game. Ohio State is slightly more vulnerable to fouls inside, and Kentucky is slightly more vulnerable to fouls outside. Sullinger absolutely cannot get in foul trouble for OSU, so expect him to play very carefully on defense and guard the less dangerous Harrellson. Kentucky must be able to keep enough shooters in the game to counter OSU's outside threats, so if two backcourt players for UK pick up early fouls, it will be trouble for the 'Cats.
The team to attack the basket off the dribble most successfully will likely win this game. OSU and Kentucky both do this a lot, so we are talking strength against strength.
Check out the whole list. . .it's well worth the read.
Tip-off for this one is set for 8:45 PM Central time, and you'll be able to watch this one on your local CBS affiliate.