Jared Sullinger was too much, finishing with 19 point. Syracuse couldn’t keep Ohio State at bay with their zone defense that worked OK in the first half, but allowed 52.4% in the second half. Thad Matta is headed to his second final four with the Buckeyes in six years, while Jim Boeheim, who had a rough year off the court, tries to figure out how this happens against Big Ten teams all the time.
I thought the Big East wasn’t as bad as some people made it out to be this season, but Syracuse were definitely overrated coming into the tournament. Just like Michigan State. These two #1 seeds are now out, and there’s a good chance Kentucky will be the only #1 left standing as North Carolina take on Kansas without (probably) Kendall Marshall.
Syracuse had a good day in the paint, scoring 28 points. They were perfect this season, 33-0, when scoring at least 20 points in the paint. But when you can’t gran a defensive rebound or stop the jump shot, all that scoring doesn’t really matter. The Buckeyes’ execution simply went up a level in the second half, ending Syracuse’ dreams of a first Final Four since 2003, the school’s only tournament era national championship.
Jared Sullinger did lead the charge with 19 points and 7 rebounds, but he also had Lenzelle Smith Jnr finishing with 18 points. William Buford and Deshaun Thomas were both a rebound short of reaching a double double. Ohio State won the rebounds battle 37-22, including 13 on the offensive boards.
The Buckeyes spent 5 weeks during the season as the number 2 team, but then came those February losses, and Thad Matta himself was pretty sure his team wouldn’t be going very far in the tournament this year. Suddenly, after the 68-64 loss to Michigan State in the conference tournament, everything clicked.
The Big East was no match for Sullinger and Ohio State, as Cincinnati lost 81-66, Sullinger scoring 23 points. The Sophomore is averaging 20 points in 7.3 rebounds for the Buckeyes in the last three wins, and looks as good as any other playing in the nation right now.