Coaching could go a long way in this game, as both coaches are going to have to decide which route they want to go. For starters, Arizona has to decide if it wants to keep Mark Lyons on Aaron Craft. Lyons' defense has been better in this tournament, but this is a case of Ohio State's offense going as far as Craft can take it. Even if he is not scoring, Craft makes the offense go and Sean Miller could choose to go the route of putting Nick Johnson on Craft and trying to make life difficult for him.
On Thad Matta's side, he has to decide what to do with Deshaun Thomas. The first look is that you may assume Thomas will guard Solomon Hill, but he could struggle with that matchup if Hill is aggressive to the basket and OSU can't afford to get him in foul trouble. Does Matta put Sam Thompson on Hill and try to use Thompson's length and athleticism?
Kaleb Tarczewski's matchups are another aspect to watch. Ohio State does not play Amir Williams much, but may have to if Arizona can successfully keep Tarczewski in the game. Ohio State has had trouble with big men this season and if the Wildcats can impose their will like they did in the first two games, it could dramatically change the way that Ohio State plays on both sides of the ball.
Starting today, you will hear as many Thad Matta and Sean Miller stories as you can handle. Miller and Matta were on Herb Sendek's staff at Miami of Ohio and have remained friends since. In fact, their relationship is still strong today and they talk often, as does Matta and Archie Miller. There is absolutely no bad blood here, but it is also not the first meeting between the two.
The most memorable meeting may have been in 2007, as ninth-seeded Xavier held a late 11-point lead over one-seeded Ohio State. The lead was 62-54 with 2:52 left, but Ohio State went on a run and Ron Lewis forced overtime with a three-pointer with two seconds left in regulation. Ohio State outscored Xavier 16-9 in overtime as Xavier's lead was wasted.
Home court Advantage?
When Arizona fans saw that the Wildcats were placed in the west bracket, the immediate thought was that Arizona needed to make the Sweet 16 because it would be a home court advantage. Well, Arizona has now made the Sweet 16 and while Ohio State generally travels decently, you have to think that Arizona is going to have what will seem like a home court.
It remains to be seen just how much of an advantage it will be, but Arizona will take all the help it can get. If the Wildcats are able to get out fast and get the crowd involved, it will be interesting to see how Ohio State will respond, especially since it struggled on the road this season.
Ohio State has won 10 games in a row and Arizona is playing some of its best basketball of the season at the right time. You either believe that momentum has to eventually stop or that it can keep carrying a team to victory. Something is going to have to give in this game, however, as both teams have some sort of momentum going.
The real question that is going to be asked this week is if Arizona is here because it is playing really well or because it hasn't played very good teams. We will likely find out the answer on Thursday either way, but it will be intriguing to see what kind of role momentum plays in the Sweet 16.