Saturday’s OSU-Syracuse match-up was probably as toe-to-toe as you’d expect when a #1 seed and #2 seed take the floor. Most of you probably watched the game, and can catch much more detailed recaps here and here. I just have a few stray observations… And again, the photo in the previous post sums up things nicely.
The officiating was interesting. It had elements of being tightly called, yet at times had “anticipated” fouls called. At least the officiating appeared to be consistent for both teams throughout the game. Which brings me to OSU’s ability to draw and convert fouls. In the preview, I felt that OSU’s higher FT rate might provide the winning edge, but; wow, 40% of the points from the foul line? And the Buckeyes needed them all.
Which leads me to Ohio State’s offense against Syracuse. We saw a glimpse of it in the first half against Cincinnati, but the
Thomas/Sullinger combination in the high/low post seems to be a valid scheme to attack the 2-3 zone. The entry pass to either post followed by quick shot/dump pass opened good scoring opportunities. This was complimented by occasions when the weak side (Buford/Smith) would work free. This was just well designed and well executed.
Getting back to Buford, he had a quietly productive game. I know, 3-12 FG is “oomph” material, but he did add another 6 points from the foul line when the team needed them, and tied for the team lead with 9 rebounds and his 2 assists were second on team. Yes, he clanked some long-range jumpers, but several of his misses were severely contested lay-ups/put backs that drew fouls and were converted. So, yes, his FG production wasn’t good, but somehow he got the points, and as The Bard noted, “A rose by any other name would smell so sweet“.
Ravenel and Williams got some good game time, combining for 6 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. Amir seemed a bit uncomfortable with his ball handling, but overall it was nice to see him play as well as he did on a pretty big stage. He was pretty comfortable on ‘D’.
Finally, I want to tip my hat to the Syracuse Orangemen. They are talented, tenacious and went the full forty against Ohio State last night. It is easy to see why they were a number #1 seed.
On to the Final Four!