Sporting a record of 17-2 in the Buckeye State in 2012-13, Ohio State tries to keep the good times rolling on Sunday afternoon as the Buckeyes clash with the Iowa State Cyclones in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at Dayton Arena.
The second seed in the West Region, the Buckeyes are riding a nine-game win streak that carried the program through the title game of the Big Ten Conference Tournament against Wisconsin (50-43), and continued in the second round of this tourney versus Iona (95-70) on Friday.
As for the 10th-seeded Cyclones, they raised more than a few eyebrows on Friday when they thumped the fashionably awkward Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the second round with a resounding 76-58 decision. The win was the fourth in the last five games for Iowa State, which bowed to Kansas during the Big 12 Championship last week.
The victory also served to even ISU's record in the NCAA Tournament at 14-14.
OSU has a history of success in this event, posting a record of 46-23 as the team competes in the tourney for the 25th time. Competitors in a total of 10 Final Fours, the Buckeyes have reached the field of 16 three straight years, a feat that is unique to OSU when compared to the teams remaining in the tournament. The Buckeyes won the national title back in 1960 when they needed just four victories to complete the run.
With respect to the all-time series between these two squads, one that dates back to 1965, the Cyclones have come out on the short end of all five meetings. The most recent of those encounters took place in 2006 when OSU secured a 75-56 triumph in Des Moines, pushing the Buckeyes to a 7-0 start to that particular campaign.
The survivor of this contest heads to Los Angeles next week as part of the Sweet 16 and will face either Harvard or Arizona for the right to compete in the Elite Eight.
Down by four in the first half, the Cyclones put together a 19-3 scoring run in order to assume control against Notre Dame on Friday and eventually produce the lopsided victory. Georges Niang led the way for Iowa State with his 19 points, tying a career high for the freshman in the process. Melvin Ejim accounted for 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the underdogs, yet the team never appeared as such as they controlled the tempo of the meeting almost from the very beginning.
Although he didn't score in double figures in the first game of the tourney, Will Clyburn is still a crucial piece of the offensive puzzle for the Cyclones as he leads the team in scoring on the season with his 14.9 ppg. Aggressive on the glass, resulting in close to seven rebounds per contest, Clyburn is also third on the unit with 71 assists, although that number is a far cry from the 191 dishes delivered by Korie Lucious (9.8 ppg).
It was a top-notch performance all around for Thad Matta and his Buckeyes on Friday night, as the team easily beat the Iona Gaels by 25 points. Sam Thompson set career highs for points (20) and rebounds (10), but he was just one player who had a standout performance. Deshaun Thomas accounted for a game-high 24 points, sinking all three of his 3-point attempts, followed by Lenzelle Smith, Jr. and Evan Ravenel with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Filling out his stat line was Shannon Scott with seven points, seven rebounds and a game-high 10 assists.
On a team that is outscoring the competition by almost 12 ppg, Thomas is the lone double-digit scorer for Ohio State with his 19.6 ppg, but clearly he is not the only one who can put points on the board in any given game. Aaron Craft also has that potential with his 9.7 ppg, but he is probably more valued for his passing which has resulted in a team-high 159 assists. Scott (137 helpers) is no slouch in that department either, considering he has done his damage in considerably less time.