A deep run in the NCAA tournament
is as much about luck as it is about skill and up until now the Buckeyes
have been very lucky. So far the Buckeyes have been matched up
with teams that primarily feature solid guard play, but not much else.
Aside from the fact that all three of Ohio State’s prior opponents
have shot the lights out, this has been a very good thing. All
that is about to change.
Ohio State has drawn its worst
possible match up in the national semifinals, Georgetown. Yes,
everyone knows that Roy Hibbert is on that team, and yes, he is very
big, but that is not the problem. The Buckeyes have an answer
to Hibbert. The real problem is that the Buckeyes do not have
any big men that match up (even reasonably well) with Georgetown’s
oversized, athletic forwards.
There is no answer on Ohio
State’s roster for Jeff Green. Actually, both of Ohio State’s
losses since Oden’s return have come to teams that feature athletic,
scoring forwards (Wisconsin’s Alondo Tucker and Brian Butch and Florida’s
Corey Brewer). Ohio State really does not feature a power forward.
Typically Ohio State starts
Ivan Harris at the “power forward” spot, but Harris’ defense is
suspect at best. In order to actually get any defense at the forward
position Ohio State has to bring Othello Hunter in to play the four.
Playing Hunter at the four reduces Ohio State’s depth at center.
Given Oden’s recent foul trouble, I am not so sure that this is the
answer for the Buckeyes, unless you think Matt Terwiliger vs. Roy Hibbert
is a favorable match up.
Ohio State’s issues defending
forwards are further complicated by the offensive scheme run by the
Hoyas. Georgetown runs a modified version of the Princeton offense.
The Princeton offense is a slow, methodical half court offense that
focuses on movement away from the ball and high post passing (someone
please deliver these links to Mike Brown 101 and 102). This defense is designed to
beat Ohio State’s best defensive scheme, the 2-3 zone.
Ohio State uses the 2-3 zone
to capitalize on Greg Oden’s dominance underneath and his ability
to help his fellow defenders stop dribble penetration. A 2-3 zone
allows Ohio State to surrender the three point shot, but in return the
Buckeye defenders are able to play 2-3 steps off their marks.
This prevents all but the most adept guards from gaining substantial
There are two basic ways to
beat this defense, lucky shooting and zone overloads. Ohio State
nearly fell victim to lucky shooting against Tennessee, but that is
the chance that a team takes when they play this defense. Essentially,
they are daring the opposing team to beat them from the outside.
The other method, the zone overload, is the one that the Princeton offense
utilizes to neutralize the 2-3 zone.
With good movement away from
the ball and quick passing, particularly in the high post, the Princeton
offense is able to force an overload (two offensive players defended
by a single defender) in a zone. These plays typically attack
a forward in the low post and lead to easy backdoor layups. In
order for the offense to be effective, the passes must be quick enough
to beat the defensive shift from the weakside. Georgetown’s
offense is definitely good enough to do this.
To make a long story short,
this match up is further proof that god does, in fact, hate Cleveland
sports. I know that Archie Griffin will be calling me in short
order to collect my alumni card and to inventory and summarily burn
all of my Buckeye gear, but I have to say, I think Georgetown will win
This does not mean that the
Buckeyes (and I for that matter) are without hope. Ohio State
can win this game, but they need to execute in order to do so.
I think they can and will win if (and only if) they are able to accomplish
some of the following:
The Buckeyes can win this game,
but this is a match up that favors Georgetown. This in no way
means that I think Georgetown is the better team, actually I think they
are about the 10th best team in the country and I figure
Ohio State is about the third best, but the personnel and systems are
such that if things go as they should and both teams are able to play
within their systems, Georgetown should win. It is now up to the
Buckeyes to remove the Hoyas from their comfort zone. If they
can do so, they will win, if they allow the Hoyas to play their game
it will be ugly.