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NCAA 2015

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NCAA tournament Final Four predictions: Ohio State vs. Kansas


CBSSports.com writers take their best shot at predicting which teams will play for the national championship.

Louisville vs. Kentucky, Sat., 6:09 p.m. ET (CBS) | Ohio State vs. Kansas, Sat., 8:49 p.m. ET (CBS)

· Doyel: Intriguing Kansas-Ohio State overshadowed by other semifinal
· Borzello: Matchup between Sullinger-Robinson could decide winner
· Dodd: Self enhances reputation by coaching un-Kansas-like team to Final Four
· Scouting reports: Ohio State | Kansas
· Road to Superdome: Ohio State | Kansas | Game preview
Gary Parrish, College Basketball Insider
The fact that Ohio State-Kansas is a rematch of a game played in December is mostly irrelevant because this one won't be played at Allen Fieldhouse and will be played with Jared Sullinger -- OSU's All-American who missed Round 1. Back spasms were to blame. But Sullinger is fine now. So we'll get the much-anticipated showdown between he and Kansas junior Thomas Robinson, but I don't believe that's what will decide the game. The other guys will do that, and Ohio State has better other guys than Kansas. Aaron Craft is a top-tier point guard. William Buford is a pro wing. Deshaun Thomas is a pro forward. And it'll be those three guys who prove too much for KU. The Buckeyes couldn't beat Kansas without Sullinger, but they'll be able to do it with him.
Jeff Goodman, College Basketball Insider
I've gone back and forth on this one over and over. Neither has much depth, but both teams have a star big man and terrific point guards. I think the key to this one is who remains on the floor out of the frontline duos. Ohio State has Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas and Kansas boasts Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey. Will T-Rob and Withey be able to guard away from the rim? Because that'll likely be Ohio State's game plan -- bring those guys way out on the perimeter with Thomas and Sully. I'm also giving the edge to Ohio State because, even though Thad Matta doesn't utilize his bench all that often, he has some guys that can play if necessary.
Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com Senior Writer
Sorry, Rock Chalkers. This is where the Kansas bandwagon runs off the road. There's too much to like about Ohio State in this game. Jared Sullinger is back. His absence in the first meeting was just about the sole reason for the Buckeyes' 78-67 loss Dec. 10 in Lawrence. Start with the revenge factor. Then add in the fact that Sullinger is really, really good. The matchup is a bit of an uncomfortable fit for the Jayhawks. Seven-foot Jeff Withey is a shot blocker but Sullinger is more agile. That means you can expect Thomas Robinson to work extra hard on the defensive end. Foul trouble anyone? KU guard Tyshawn Taylor dealt out 13 assists on a bad knee in the first meeting. He also turned it over seven times. For Kansas to win, Taylor must accomplish about what he did in the regional final -- 22 points, five assists against North Carolina. The problem is Ohio State's Aaron Craft is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country. In the gigantic, airy Superdome, I'll take the Buckeyes' muscle over the Jayhawks' superior 3-point shooting.
Gregg Doyel, CBSSports.com National Columnist
Ohio State has more great college players than Kansas, and more future NBA players than Kansas, and more depth than Kansas. In other words, any way you slice it, Ohio State has more talent than Kansas. And Ohio State has the coaching equivalent to Kansas, too. Thad Matta or Bill Self? It's a tossup. They're both great. Can't go wrong either way. So why am I going with Kansas to beat a deeper, more talented Ohio State team? Because Kansas knows how to win, knows how to win more than any team in the country. That doesn't mean Kansas can beat any team in the country -- Kansas can't beat Kentucky -- but short of Kentucky, Kansas can and will beat anyone else in this Final Four. And by virtue of its incredible experience, chemistry and sheer will to win, Kansas will beat Ohio State.
Jeff Borzello, CBSSports.com Eye on College Basketball Blogger
Like the first game between Louisville and Kentucky, it's tough to draw anything meaningful from the first meeting between Ohio State and Kansas this season. Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger was injured and didn't get a chance to battle down low with Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey. On Saturday, he will get his opportunity. Which team's bigs get into foul trouble sooner could be a factor. Kansas has little to no depth behind Robinson and Withey, so Sullinger should attack immediately. The key for Ohio State could be Deshaun Thomas. No one on Kansas can match up with him on the perimeter, when he either goes off the dribble or shoots the 3. On the other side, the battle of Aaron Craft vs. Tyshawn Taylor should be interesting. Taylor can't be taken out of the game by Craft, as Kansas' offensive fluidity will suffer greatly. Ohio State has too many weapons for Kansas.
Matt Norlander, CBSSports.com Eye on College Basketball Blogger
I actually don’t think this game is getting ignored as much as the loudening narrative about how this game is getting ignored would have you believe. Because it’s really, really a nice matchup. Two big men who are Player of the Year-caliber players getting a do-se-do chance in the Final Four? This, in the modern hoops era, is rare. Jared Sullinger and Thomas Robinson: let the men be men, referees. The game totally changes -- and we’re worse off for it -- if either of those two gets into foul trouble. With Sully and T-Rob, I think it’s a wash in terms of who has the advantage going in. I do think Ohio State has the advantage overall. Better defensively, no question, and a few more options in how they can score/hurt an opponent. Ohio State wins, meaning Monday night’s title game will guarantee us a coach cutting down the nets who’s never done it before.
Doug Bean, CBSSports.com Ohio State correspondent
If you’re a college basketball fan, you probably know the Buckeyes and Jayhawks met Dec. 10 in Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas came out on top 78-67. But the Buckeyes, ranked No. 2 at the time, played without All-American F Jared Sullinger and still held their own. This time around, with Sullinger in the lineup, the Buckeyes are a different team, a better team. The Jayhawks will counter with their own All-American, F Thomas Robinson. If the All-Americans cancel each other out, that leaves the rest of the cards in the deck and Ohio State has a slightly better hand with Deshaun Thomas, Aaron Craft and William Buford.
C.J. Moore, CBSSports.com Kansas correspondent
Kansas’ 78-67 win over Ohio State on Dec. 10 comes with a big asterisk: Jared Sullinger did not play that day. What’s lost is the fact that Tyshawn Taylor played that day with a torn meniscus, putting off surgery until after the game. Taylor still managed nine points, 13 assists and seven turnovers (Aaron Craft effect), but he was limited to a facilitator role instead of attacking. The difficulty of facing the Buckeyes’ defense is their ball pressure makes teams uncomfortable and makes it difficult to run good offense. That’s what makes Taylor key. When teams have pressured KU –- K-State comes to mind –- Taylor makes them pay by driving into the paint. Sullinger’s presence will mean a lot on Saturday, but Kansas has an answer in 7-foot swat master Jeff Withey. A healthy, attacking Taylor and the Withey effect will put the Jayhawks in the title game.
Aaron Smith, CBSSports.com Kentucky correspondent
All the hype is centered on the matchup between Ohio State F Jared Sullinger and Kansas F Thomas Robinson -- for good reason, of course. Both are All-Americans and power each of their respective teams. But the point guard matchup between Ohio State’s Aaron Craft and Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor will be equally important. Craft, who has accounted for 40.2 percent of the Buckeyes’ forced turnovers in the NCAA tournament according to SI.com’s Luke Winn, will pressure Taylor into mistakes. Even if that happens, Ohio State will have to generate points against a solid Kansas defense. The Jayhawks hold opponents to a nation-best 40 percent shooting from inside the arc. The Buckeyes will either have to find a way to score inside, as they did against Syracuse, or get more 3-point shots to fall than their season average of 33.6 percent. One of those will happen.


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