All previews: click here for the full 2015 NCAA tournament schedule
Ohio State Buckeyes
Conference: Big Ten
Date: Saturday, March 21
Time: 5:15 pm Eastern
Location: Portland, OR
Ohio State won by three points in overtime; Arizona rolled by 21. This one should be on the closer side as the Buckeyes are potentially just as good as the Wildcats.
Arizona Ohio State
SportsRatings Power Ratings
Strength: #3 Strength: #10
Median play: #2 Median play: #18
Road/Neutral Rank: #4 Road/Neutral Rank: #32
Other Power Ratings
Sagarin(predictor):#3 Sagarin: #11
Pomeroy: #2 Pomeroy: #21
Offense: #11 Offense: #29
Defense: # 3 Defense: #40
LRMC: #2 LRMC: #16
BPI: #3 BPI: #17
Power Rating Derivatives
2nd half/season: #1 2nd half/season: #16
Last 6 games: #2 Last 6 games: #47
Injury correction: #3 Injury correction: #9
Consistency: #238 Consistency: #325
Deep Run Rank: #4 Deep Run Rank: #22
Best Shot: #3 Best Shot: #7
Schedule Strength: #59 Schedule Strength: #72
Arizona is a consensus top 5 team, but Ohio State is nearly a consensus top 20, pretty good for a 10-seed. And that's close enough for them to get the upset over Arizona; at the least it should be a very competitive game.
- Wins vs. tournament teams (11): UC Irvine+17, =San Diego St.+2, Gonzaga+OT, @Oregon+18, Utah+18, Oregon+34, UCLA+10, @Utah+6, =UCLA+6, =Oregon+28, =Texas Southern+21
- Losses to tournament teams (0): none
- Other losses (3): @UNLV-4, @Oregon St.-2, @Arizona St.-3
Key Info: Arizona went 10-0 against tournament-bound foes, pretty impressive. But they had three losses against non-tourney opponents, all three on the road and against teams that ranked 92, 105, and 62 in Strength. Since the last loss the Wildcats have been on a roll, winning every game by double digits except for 6-points wins at Utah and vs. UCLA.
Freshman Stanley Johnson leads four key scorers at 14.1 points and adds 6.6 rebounds, while Brandon Ashley, who missed the 2nd half of last season, is #2 with 12.3 points. But against Texas Southern it was Rondae Hollis-Jefferson leading with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
- Wins vs. tournament teams (4): Indiana+12, Maryland+24, Purdue+4, =VCU+OT
- Losses to tournament teams (9): @Louisville-9, =North Carolina-8, Iowa-6, @Indiana-3, @Iowa-9, @Purdue-2, @Michigan St.-3, Wisconsin-24, =Michigan St.-9
- Other losses (1): @Michigan-7
Key Info: Ohio State had some dominant performances early—beating Sacred Heart 106-48, and High Point 97-43. But against quality teams—Louisville, North Carolina—the Buckeyes fell short. And they continued to do so in the Big Ten, leaving them with just 3 tournament-team wins in 12 tries. They avoided bad losses, falling just once at home (to Wisconsin) but their road play was terrible by comparison.
One of their issues is that they are somewhat of a 1-man team, with freshman sensation D'Angelo Russell (19.3 ppg, 5.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists) having to do it all. And when he can't—or teams can key on him and stop him—OSU can't beat a superior, well-rounded opponent. But when Russell is hitting his shots there's not a better player in the country, and players like him can sometimes lift a team to new heights in the post-season. Against VCU Russell led all scorers with 28 points.
Game Analysis: Arizona got a tough draw this year, with a 2nd-round prospect of facing VCU or Ohio State, either choice bad. Ohio State is easily the best 10-seed in the tournament and is better than a typical 5-seeds.
Arizona, as we've mentioned, is great for a 2-seed. Their challenge will be to stop D'Angelo Russell, and, failing that, to make the Buckeyes 1-dimensional enough that it doesn't matter if he scores 30+ points. With Stanley Johnson matching up with Russell, this will be one of the great one-on-one features of the tournament. Johnson is 2 inches taller than Russell and a superstar in his own right, and Arizona can afford to have Johnson's offense hurt by having to guard Russell, but the opposite isn't true. In other words, if Johnson and Russell offset or neutralize each other, that will be a great outcome for Arizona.
Arizona by 9 1/2
Power rating: spread
Arizona by 4.3
Game-comparisons: % Chance to win
Ohio St.: 35.6%
Normally the Vegas line is a bit below the Strength power rating's take on the same game. But Ohio State's rank in power rating exceeds their on-court success as far as winning and losing goes. So in this case, Arizona is a bigger favorite by the oddsmakers. Also, the public has taken the line higher (from 8) partly due to the misperception that the Buckeyes are a mid-level Big Ten team.
10-seeds have a much better winning percentage against 2-seeds than 7-seeds do, for some reason: 42% to 26%. We don't quite give Ohio State that much chance but 36% is in the same range, and probably realistic.
Bottom line: We like Ohio State so much we picked them over VCU...then changed our pick (smart). D'Angelo Russell will have another game to showcase his talent, and he might score 30 points. But even if he does, Arizona should win. Ohio State is great with Russell, but aside from him, the gap between the Buckeyes and Wildcats is huge. Russell will almost close that gap, but not quite.
Final prediction: Arizona 72, Ohio State 68
More previews: click here for the full 2015 NCAA tournament schedule.