Ohio State - Xavier Preview
Ohio State Buckeyes (1) Vs Xavier Musketeers (9)
Saturday, 3/17 @ 1:10 pm
Betting Line From Bookmaker: Ohio State -7.5
The Buckeyes easily beat Central Connecticut State in their first round meeting 78- 57, while Xavier nudged the #8 seed Brigham Young Cougars 79- 77. Both games were indicative of the character of these teams. Ohio State is a take no prisoners sort of club, while Xavier is a push it to the limit, never say die squad.
For Ohio State, freshman center Greg Oden was outstanding, notching a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. This game came down to shooting, with the Buckeyes hitting 52% of their shots and 55% of their threes to CCS’s 36% and 39%.
In less than five minutes, Ohio State had built up a 10-point lead. Overall, they played hard and kept their focus even though they far outmatched the Blue Devils. Ohio State’s freshman point guard Mike Conley played solid defense with two steals and five assists.
Guard Drew Lavender, who must have had BYU seeing red, was the hero for the Musketeers. In the final two minutes, he put in two clutch baskets in the lane, swiped an important rebound and knocked in two penalty shots. The clutch performance was vintage Lavender.
Although BYU out shot Xavier from every part of the court, the game was, in essence won and lost at the foul line where the Musketeers got 29 chances and converted 23, while the Cougars handled only 13 charity shots, making 10. It’s often the case in these games where two teams are evenly matched that disciplined, foul-free play wins the day.
In the match-up between the Buckeyes and Musketeers, Xavier has the edge in free throw percentage by a 74% to 69% ratio. Both teams played disciplined ball in the first round, but Xavier has the edge in terms of maturity and experience with a squad composed of seniors and juniors. Ohio State starts three freshmen; and although all are loaded with talent, as clubs get deeper into the playoff mix having a strong veteran presence can be important. Senior guard Ron Lewis (11.7 PPG. 3.3 RPG) gives the Buckeyes a little bit of that.
If the Musketeers outlast Ohio State, it will be an upset. Upsets are what second rounds are about.