Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of RTC. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.
The Ohio State Buckeyes haven’t lost since February 17 when they took a shellacking in Madison, but since that debacle they have ripped off 10 straight wins and have arguably been the hottest team from the Big Ten. Junior guard Aaron Craft is creating a new role for himself by controlling games in the critical minutes and proving that he isn’t afraid to take the big shot. But standing between the Buckeyes and another Final Four is an equally hot Arizona squad who has won two NCAA Tournament games by an average 20 points. Can the Buckeyes get past Sean Miller’s Wildcats? Let’s assess two key factors that will determine the outcome of the game.
- Craft will have his toughest defensive assignment so far this season. Craft defended quality point guards in the Big Ten such as Trey Burke and Andre Hollins but he may have an even tougher time defending Mark Lyons. Lyons has the ability to take anybody off the dribble and Miller likes to call isolation plays for him at the top of the key during the final minutes of the game. Even though he only shoots 33% from beyond the arc, confidence is not one of his weaknesses because he will pull the trigger at any time. He’s also been scorching hot in the NCAA Tournament so far, averaging 25 PPG. Craft did an effective job on Burke but the Michigan guard settled for a number of long jumpers in both games against the Buckeyes. It will be interesting to see if Craft will have anything left in his tank this week during the last six minutes of the game after exhausting most of his energy trying to lock down Lyons. The Buckeyes’ recent wins have been a direct result of Craft impacting the game offensively, but this match-up will certainly test his stamina. Read the rest of this entry »