Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, March 16, 2015
One of the Big Ten's NCAA tournament regulars is back at it again in 2015. Ohio State is in its seventh straight NCAA tourney, which marks a program record.
Ohio State, the No. 10 seed in the West Region, face recent Cinderella and No. 7 VCU on Thursday.
Get my Ohio State NCAA tourney capsule below.
Thad Matta NCAA record: 23-12. Reached Final Four in 2007 and 2012
Last tourney appearance: 2014, lost to Dayton in first round
Best-case scenario: One-and-done. The Buckeyes are an NCAA regular, making their seventh appearance in a row and ninth in 10 years. This isn?t one of Thad Matta?s best teams, but he has kept it together despite getting inconsistent performances from the interior. It will help if injured Anthony Lee can go. And the seniors haven?t excelled consistently. But the freshmen have been good, led by perhaps the best newcomer in the nation in D?Angelo Russell. Jae?Sean Tate also has come on down the stretch. What would be Ohio State?s reward by beating the A-10 tourney champs? A likely date with No. 2 Arizona, which came close to earning a No. 1 seed.
Key player: D?Angelo Russell. He arrived billed by most as the Big Ten?s top freshman. And Russell has lived up to the hype, averaging 19.3 points and 5.6 rebounds. He?s an underrated passer and big-shot maker who can take over a game, having eclipsed the 20-point mark 14 times this season.
Key number: 77.5. That?s how many points Ohio State averages, which ranks second in the Big Ten. This is a perimeter-oriented team that can play at a quick tempo and get off a lot of shots. G Shannon Scott and F Sam Thompson–both seniors–need to play well in their last go-around.
Know VCU: Shaka Smart has made this a formidable mid-major program that is making its fifth NCAA appearance in six years. Smart led the Rams to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed in 2011. The star of this year?s show is Treveon Graham, a 6-6 swingman who averages 16.2 points and 6.8 boards. VCU lost A-10 Defensive Player of the Year Briante Weber to a knee injury in late January. Still, the Rams won the A-10 tourney and are a dangerous team.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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