A Look at Ohio State

 

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The above histograms of the player's heights tell you pretty much everything you need to know about tonight's game. One team is very, very tall, and the other is very, very small.

Now normally, the style of play would be easy to predict for such a game. The team of behemoths would try to slow the game down and work a deliberate offense while relying on defense and rebounds to keep the shorter, faster team at bay. But this is UNC, and they're going to be out there running with the best of them, while Ohio State is a member of the cripplingly slow-playing Big Ten conference. 

In conference play last season, the Buckeyes managed only 60.8 possessions a game; by comparison, UNC had 74.7. Ohio State will the team taking it ridiculously slow. Which is odd given their style of play, which is heavily perimeter oriented, and defensively geared towards opponents doing the same. (Only two teams had a higher percentage of threes shot attempted against them last season. They'll look to tall wing players Jon Diebler and Jeremie Simmons, and William Buford to do most of the perimeter shooting while leaving Evan Turner to handle most of the penetration. Marcus Ginyard will be the key defensive player, and he'll amost certainly shut down whoever he's manned up on, but the other perimeter defenders will have to step up.

As this season has shown though, it will be UNC's turnovers that will make or break them tonight. OSU isn't prone to take the ball away particularly often, but there's is a perimeter defense built on denying the ball inside. Sloppy entry passes and poor ball handling will lead to turnovers here, and unlike the Heels' first three games, this team is good enough to punish them when they make mistakes. Keeping Ohio State out of their half court defensive set will help, but if they don't get the ball inside to those five players 6' 10" or higher, it's going to be a long, long evening for Carolina.

As to who wins? It's difficult to say. The UNC team that has taken the floor so far this season has an unnerving habit of playing down to their opponent's level at times, and that has to stop. Hopefully Tuesday and Wednesday's practices refocused the Heels, otherwise it won't be a particularly enjoyable trip to the Big Apple.

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