Seeking their second straight Final Four, the Ohio State Buckeyes square off against the Wichita State Shockers Saturday afternoon at Staples Center.
Led by star sixth man LaQuinton Ross and Player of the Year candidate Deshaun Thomas, the No. 2 seed Buckeyes inched past Arizona Thursday in a 73-70 win in the Sweet 16.
Thomas went 7-for-14 for 20 points, and Ross’s three-pointer with two seconds broke a 70 all tie. The forward scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, and guard Aaron Craft finished with 13 points and five assists.
Ohio State head coach Thad Matta has now guided two different teams to the Elite Eight, including two times with the Buckeyes, and once with Xavier in 2004.
The Buckeyes are the last remaining top seed in a wacky West region that saw six of the top eight seeds fall in the first weekend of the tournament.
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Wichita State is one of the teams responsible for the region's parity, toppling Pittsburgh in the second round, then dispatching No. 1 Gonzaga in the third, before dropping fellow upstart La Salle 72-58 in the Sweet 16.
Shockers head coach Gregg Marshall and his team may be making up for their first round ouster in last year’s tournament, and have made the Elite Eight for the first time in 32 years.
Against the Explorers, Wichita State built a 16-point halftime lead by shooting 53 percent from the field, and holding LaSalle to 27 percent shooting.
Malcolm Armstead totaled a game-high 18 points with six rebounds, and Carl Hall notched 16 points and eight rebounds.
Marshall decided to move up his top reserve in Cleanthony Early, but he struggled against La Salle, going 4-for-11 for eight points and four rebounds in his 20th start of the season.
The game tips-off at 7:05 p.m. Eastern and will be broadcast by CBS, or you want watch a free live online stream at NCAA March Madness here.
Betting Odds: Ohio State is favored by 5 points
Over/Under: 131 points
Prediction: The Shockers will need Early to find his shot again, and must also contain Ross. If Ohio State can control the boards, and stay out of early foul trouble, they should move on to Atlanta.
Predicted Score: Ohio State 65, Wichita State 62