The eastern and western outskirts of what we call “the Midwest” will meet on Saturday in the prime time national semifinal game. The 2008 national champion Kansas Jayhawks will meet the 2007 runner-up Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2012 Final Four.
Let’s break it down!
Ohio State synopsis:
The Buckeyes lacked a true point last year. Enter Craft, a great distributing guard, who stepped into a starting role by showing the ability to feed the studs around him. He may be the best distributor in college basketball right now.
A high school valedictorian, he’s heady player that also likes to get physical in his game.
But the real force behind the Buckeyes is Jared Sullinger.
Sure, he’s everybody’s All-American, and deservedly so. And he had a great Tournament, so he’s getting hot at the right time, but that doesn’t mean he still isn’t getting the NBA style “star calls” treatment.
And don’t think the NBA thing doesn’t exist either, I’ve had off-the-record conversations with ex-NBA referees who told me the star treatment is a long established practice that starts at the top and works its way down through the chain of command.
After bowing out in the sweet sixteen the past two years, (as a #1 and a #2 seed, so it was rather disappointing) the Bucks have made it back to the big stage. There was a time earlier this year when I thought this group was the best in the nation. Now they have a chance to prove it.
The offense is obviously engineered by point guard Tyshawn Taylor. In a dozen career NCAA tournament games, he’s averaged 7.8 points, shot 40 percent from the floor, made less than 10 percent of his treys (3 for 32, .094), hit on 63 percent of his free throws and committed almost as many turnovers (39) as assists (44). A career 38-percent shooter from beyond the arc, he’s 0 for 12 from long distance during this year’s Big Dance. That was before Sunday; when he awoke to score 22 points to lead KU over North Carolina in one of the most exciting games (well the first half maybe, most exciting halves) in college basketball this year.
But Kansas true star is their national player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson. He put up 18 and 9 in the win over the Heels, and he needs to consistently bring it if the Jayhawks are to get past Ohio State, and then the bluegrass battle winner. Robinson will truly be “one to watch” Saturday night.
This year, the best t-shirt of the NCAA Tournament is easily this one, worn by a Kansas fan attending today’s Midwest Regional Final games between the Jayhawks and North Carolina. And don’t forget Bill Self’s awesome shirt here. Pretty nice in it’s own right.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.