Listen, Ohio State has size. Lots of it. Loyola (MD) found out the hard way on Thursday, as the Buckeyes dominated in the paint and out-rebounded their opponents 49-24 in a 78-59 victory. Deshaun Thomas and Jared Sullinger combined for nearly half of those rebounds and both recorded double-doubles.
But in the next round, Ohio State must take on a Gonzaga team that shot absolutely lights in its win over West Virginia. The Bulldogs shot 56 percent from the field (52.9 from long range) and got off to a hot start early, blowing the game open midway through the first half with a 13-0 run that gave them a 27-10 lead. There is no rebound for Sullinger and Thomas on any shot that the Zags splash through the net.
Will Gonzaga be able continue its stellar shooting against Ohio State's defense? Or will the No. 2 Buckeyes force Gonzaga to play in the paint and overpower the No. 7 seed?
NO. 2 OHIO STATE
Overall Record: 27-7
Conference Record: 13-5
Points Allowed: 58.8
AP Ranking: 7
KenPom Ranking: 2
Standout Player: Jared Sullinger
Season In Review: In the preseason rankings, Ohio State was projected to be a No. 1 seed, and it looked like that would be the case after an early blowout win over Duke. But a bad loss to Illinois and a stretch in which they lost three out of five late in the regular season put the chances of a No. 1 seed nearly out of reach. The Buckeyes could have earned a top seed with a Big Ten Tournament title, but they lost to Michigan State in the finals.
Tournament Experience: 47-26, 27 appearances, 10 Final Fours, 1 National Championship
NO. 7 GONZAGA
Overall Record: 25-6
Conference Record: 13-3
Points Allowed: 63.2
AP Ranking: 24
KenPom Ranking: 32
Standout Player: Elias Harris
Season In Review: Besides two losses to Big Ten teams (MSU and Illinois), the only problem Gonzaga had throughout the season was Saint Mary's. The two teams split the regular season series, but Saint Mary's got the last laugh in the conference championship with an overtime victory.
Tournament Experience: 16-14, 14 appearances