The Arizona Wildcats and the Ohio State Buckeyes will face each other on Thursday in Los Angeles, with the winner earning an Elite 8 appearance on Saturday. The game will not be decided because of one matchup, but 4 players will have a major impact on this game.
DeShaun Thomas vs. Solomon Hill
This is a dream match-up, pittting two of the best players in the nation versus each other. DeShaun Thomas (6″7″) of Ohio State leads the Big 10 in scoring at 19.5 points per game, and he also leads his team in rebounding, with 6.2 rebounds per game. He is as talented of an offensive player that you will find in college basketball today. The Wildcats will not just be guarding Thomas with Hill, but that will be the match-up when the ball is tipped. It will take a commitment from the entire Wildcats team to track Thomas throughout the game. You will probably see 4 different players (Hill, Kevin Parrom,Brandon Ashley, and Grant Jerrett) defending Thomas at times throughout the game. The Wildcats will hope that all of these different looks will wear him down, but Hill is the best overall match-up in a half court set. Meanwhile, Solomon Hill for the Arizona Wildcats comes in as one of the most versatile players in the nation. Hill (6″7″) averages 13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. He is a nightmare match-up because of his ability to stretch the floor, go coast to coast on a one man fast break, and his unstoppable turn around jumpers. The Buckeyes will key on slowing down Hill as a team, just like Thomas, but he will be tough to stop with just one defender. Make no mistake about it, this match-up will most likely determine this game, but if it doesn’t there is one more amazing match-up…….
Aaron Craft vs. Mark Lyons
This point guard match-up will be a fun one to watch. Aaron Craft is one of the best defenders in the country, while averaging 10 points per game, and 4.6 assists per game. The key will be whether or not Craft will be able to shut down the Wildcats leading scorer, Mark Lyons. Lyons averages 14.8 points per game, but has been on a tear in the NCAA tournament. He tallied 23 points versus Belmont, and 27 points versus Harvard. Lyons usually has trouble with larger defenders that take away his outside shot, and try to make him one dimensional. In this case, the 2 players are virtually the same height. Craft will try to keep Lyons out of the lane, while frustrating him into jacking up lots of contested 3 pointers. Lyons will try to use his amazing body control and veteran savvy to get into the lane and keep Craft on his heels, this will be an amazing match-up.
Oftentimes games will not be won or lost with one or two match-ups, and this game may not either, but in this case it will be a special thing to watch. Get ready for some fun!!!