Fantasy College Basketball Game of the Week: Kansas at Ohio State
After the Jayhawks swept the Buckeyes last year in a regular season game in Lawrence and the Final Four in New Orleans, the shoe could have been on the other fit as the two teams met in Columbus on Saturday. Kansas won again. They may be significantly better than Ohio State or Bill Self may be a better coach than Thad Matta. I hate to put too much stock in one game, especially one in which the Buckeye perimeter players had such a tough time hitting 3-pointers (8-of-31 from beyond the arc).
I have written before that I think Bill Self is this generation's Bobby Knight (or as I like to call him, just "Knight"). Obviously they have different temperaments, but Self is a consistently successful coach. His players are drafted in the lottery each year and have not done much in the NBA. Maybe Thomas Robinson will break that trend, but Mario Chalmers is the most successful NBA player from Kansas in the Self era. I think that speaks to Self's system and his ability to get his players to concentrate on defense. It helps to have an eraser like Jeff Withey in the back of the defense, but the Jayhawks are solid on the perimeter every year.
The x-factor for this year's Jayhawk squad is redshirt freshman Ben McLemore. He had an excellent game against Ohio State. The 6-5 wing hit three 3-pointers from the side and showed off his athleticism on some beautiful moves. He has been playing very well in his last five games, but there was something missing from his game. Perhaps the comparisons to Brandon Rush are accurate or maybe he doesn't feel confident to lead as a freshman on a team with a number of upperclassmen. He has star-like skills, but very little charisma. After a game in which he looked so good, it is hard to criticize McLemore. However, something that I can't put my finger on wasn't there.
The Buckeyes' problem, particularly in this game, was that they did not have a strong secondary scorer behind DeShaun Thomas. Usually, I think Lenzelle Smith Jr. is that guy, but he missed all seven of his 3-point attempts and was replaced by Shannon Scott for much of the second half. Scott is a nice player, but he and Aaron Craft are not shooters. Scott has hit 44.4 percent of his shots, but that is in limited duty. He has only scored in double digits three times. After a strong start, Craft has faded as a scorer and has not scored more than eight points in his last six games. When the Buckeyes have both point guards on the court, opposing defenses can crowd the lane and concentrate on stopping Thomas.All in all, I think both of these teams will be highly seeded come March. The Buckeyes will get some quality wins in Big Ten play and I still think they might be the second best team behind Indiana. The top five teams in conference - Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois, and Michigan State - are going to feast upon each other. For the Jayhawks, it is business as usual. They may lose a game or two in Big 12 play, but I think they'll be a one-seed in the NCAA tournament.