March Madness: Arizona Keys to Beat Ohio State


The No. 2 seeded Arizona Wildcats took care of business in the Round of 64 against the Texas Southern Tigers to open up March Madness play and will now set their sights on their next victim: Ohio State.

No. 10 seed Ohio State defeated the No. 7 seed VCU Rams on Thursday in exciting fashion with a 75-72 overtime victory to kick off their dance in the tournament.

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Arizona and Ohio State have only faced one another twice before in the history of the two programs with the Buckeyes coming away in both contests. The most recent game between the two teams was in the 2013 Sweet Sixteen when Ohio State took down Arizona 73-70.

The loss to Ohio State in 2013 was just one of Arizona coach Sean Miller’s three losses in his tournament career. Entering Saturday, Miller boasts an impressive 9-3 record in his tournament career. In five previous tournament appearances, Miller has led the Wildcats to the Sweet Sixteen three times and to the Elite Eight twice.

Here are the keys to the game for Arizona in order for them to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the sixth consecutive season under Miller:

1. Bench Squad

Arizona’s bench only put up nine, out of 93, total points in the game against Texas Southern. Gabe York, averaging 9.1 points per game entering the tournament, was held off the scoreboard surprisingly.

The Wildcats must find a way to find the spark off the bench against the Buckeyes. In contests in which Arizona’s bench unit outscores their opponent’s bench unit, they are a perfect 25-0.

2. Work for High Percentage Shots

Arizona shot the ball exceptionally well against Texas Southern in which they made 32 of their 53 shot attempts (60.4 percent). Not only did they shoot well overall, but they were effective from distance in which they were 5-for-11.

Additionally, the Wildcats shot beautifully from the free throw line in which they finished with a 24-for-27 mark (88.9 percent). Not too shabby for a team that shot a combined mark under 70 percent in the regular season from the charity stripe.

The Wildcats have been a solid offensive club all season long, shooting 49.3 percent from the floor as a team (sixth in the nation). Arizona must continue to work the ball into the paint and allow Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to take their defenders off the dribble to work for the best possible shot on each possession.

3. Crash the Glass

Arizona dominated Texas Southern on the boards in the opening round matchup, 35-19.

Hollis-Jefferson led the team with 10 rebounds, to go with his team-high 23 points, and Johnson added an additional five rebounds. Surprisingly, Kaleb Tarczewski, who stands at 7-0, was only able to grab three rebounds in the game.

With the +16 rebound margin in the Round of 64, Arizona increased their rebound margin on the season to a +9.0, which is second in the nation. As if that were not enough, the Wildcats rank first in the nation in defensive rebounding where they grab 77.6 percent of opponents’ missed shots.

In the 145 games under Miller that Arizona has won the rebounding battle, they have gone on to win 124 (85.5 percent) of those games. It’s simple, if Arizona wins the board battle, they will win the game.

Where to Watch:

Date: March 21, 2015
Tip-Off: 2:15 p.m. MST
Location: Portland, Oregon
Stadium: Moda Center at the Rose Quarter
TV Channel: CBS