Two teams who looked very impressive in their respective opening round wins will face off in Sunday’s third round. Ohio State crushed Iona 95-70 by dictating tempo from the beginning and never letting Iona get comfortable in their offensive sets. Deshaun Thomas played the way he always does which is dominant and efficient. He scored 24 points on 8 of 12 shooting and was 3 out of 3 from beyond the arc. Despite his fantastic game he was somewhat upstaged by his own teammate. Sophomore Sam Thompson had career a career high in points with 20 and rebounds with 10. Two of those points came on a ferocious one handed alley-oop dunk after a spectacular catch that ignited his team. Senior leader Aaron Craft had 6 steals and 7 assists while Shannon Scott tied his career high with 10 assists.
Iowa State went into its matchup with Notre Dame as 1 point favorites, which is indicative of how close this game was supposed to be. Apparently Iowa State had no interest in a close game and proceeded to beat Notre Dame in every aspect of the game in a relatively easy win. Iowa State earned a tournament berth based on their success from the 3 point line; however in this game they showed an ability to get into the paint and score. Freshman forward Georges Niang stepped up big with a season high tying 19 points. Junior forward Melvin Ejim had 17 points in the convincing victory. They started off the 2nd half off on fire connecting on 10 of their first 12 shots and proceeded to route the Irish. It was a convincing win that sets up an interesting game Sunday afternoon.
Ohio State is in a bracket besieged by upsets in which the 3, 4, and 5 seeds all lost. Iowa State may end up being Ohio State’s highest ranked opponent until the regional final. Iowa State is a fast paced, high scoring team. Coach Fred Hoiberg encourages his players to be aggressive and shoot the 3-point shot at every opportunity. They averaged over 10 three pointers made per game and scored almost 80 points per contest. Ohio State will have to make an effort to defend the three point line on every possession; otherwise they could fall behind early and be forced to play at a faster pace than they are accustomed to.
Iowa State will need production from their backcourt of Will Clyburn and Tyrus McGee on both ends of the floor in order to withstand the veteran Ohio State backcourt of Craft and Thomas. Craft plays like the seasoned veteran that he is and Thomas is the best player on the court. If they can neutralize the Ohio State backcourt and make their 3 point attempts they could pull the upset.
Hoiberg’s squad can stay in the game if they connect from downtown, however Ohio State is the better team and will do enough defensively and offensively to pull away in the end.
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