Mar 30, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft during practice the day before the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA men

Final Four: Ohio State Preview

The Kansas Jayhawks and Ohio State Buckeyes will face off in a highly anticipated Final Four matchup tomorrow, and here are some interesting statistical tidbits about Ohio State leading up to the game.

1. This team is one of the best five defensive teams in the country in terms of efficiency, and Deshaun Thomas is the closest thing that this juggernaut has to a defensive liability. Aaron Craft is easily the best perimeter defender in the country, and Jared Sullinger will shred you at will.

2. Sullinger is just a monster in every sense of the word, and you can easily see this when looking at the raw data: 9.3 win shares, 30.9 PER, 18.3 TRB%, 60.2 TS%, 2.2 stocks per game, solid turnover rate, outscores opponents 82-57 per 67 possessions. How can you not love this guy? This is just insane stuff, and he deserves more credit than he has received this season. Sully didn’t play in the Ohio State loss to Kansas this season, and he is an animal we are not used to; look for him to offer an incredible match-up with our unanimous All-American Thomas Robinson.

3. Ohio State mainly relies on those solid role players who chip in on offense, because DeShaun Thomas is their only other player with a PER above 20 (23.7). He is their most efficient player on offense in terms of raw data with a 60.6 TS% and averages 1.27 points per play. Thomas, however, is the team’s worst defensive player and has just 24 stocks on the season.

4. My favorite player on this Ohio State team is Aaron Craft, because he epitomizes what it means to be a hard-working team player. He’s efficient, but more importantly, he is everything to this team on defense. Craft is one of those rare players who can dictate defensive play from the perimeter, and how many college level players can you say that about? Craft holds down opponents to an ungodly .87 points per play- and he’s a freaking guard. The 6’2″ star leads the team by averaging five dimes per game, but he only uses up about 15% of the available possessions. Win shares says Thomas is slightly better as does PER (18.7 for Craft), but both of them are way off in the analysis. Opinions override stats, and Craft’s defense absolutely shreds Thomas. Craft only averages 8.8 points per game, but he doesn’t have to be the guy to score a ton and average 16 a game like Thomas. If you’re telling me that you would take Thomas over Craft’s defense, then you’re crazy. Craft means so much to this team.

5. Below are some stats dealing with William Buford:

He shoots just 35% from the floor in neutral environments.

Buford has been a cold 36/30/70 in March as a shooter.

In Ohio State victories, Buford is 44/38/83 but 33/17/78 in losses.

In his past ten games, he has shot above 50% just once.

On Saturdays, he shoots 30% from the floor and is just 25% from three.

When Ohio State and Kansas met up this season, William Buford went 8-23 with five rebounds, three assists, two turnovers, and 21 points (1-6 from three). Those 23 shots were the highest amount he took that season, with an 18 shot, 15 point performance against Illinois exactly a month later being the next highest amount.

Hopefully those interesting statistics and some detailed analysis helps to bring light on the Ohio State team as we start to get closer to the big game.

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Tags: Aaron Craft All-American Deshaun Thomas Final Four Jared Sullinger Kansas Jayhawks Basketball NCAA Tournament Ohio State Thomas Robinson William Buford

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