Previewing Ohio

The Tar Heels -- with or without Kendall Marshall -- will play in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 against Ohio on Friday in St. Louis. The Bobcats are the first No. 13 seed to advance this far since 2006. Tip-off at the Edward Jones Dome is set for 7:47 p.m. (EST) and will be televised by TBS.

No. 1 North Carolina (31-5) vs. No. 13 Ohio (29-7)
St. Louis, Mo. -- Edward Jones Dome
Friday, 7:47 p.m.
TBS (Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, Craig Sager)


"No different. Just going to prepare regardless. He's a good guard. We're going to prepare as if he's playing. We don't know if he's playing for sure or not, but we're going to compete regardless and just go out and play our best." – Ohio guard D.J. Cooper on how Kendall Marshall's injury has changed his team's preparation

"I wouldn't say scary, I'm not really scared of anybody. But he's obviously a good player. He's a NBA first rounder pretty soon or whenever that may be. He has great size obviously, so I have to do a good job of keep being him out of the paint area. Using my size to my advantage, get up in him a little bit, pressure him a little bit more, and keep him off the boards." – Ohio guard Walter Offutt on having to defend Harrison Barnes


Season to Date: No. 13 seed Ohio enters Friday's contest with a 29-7 (11-5 MAC) record. The Bobcats won 12 of their first 13 games, with the lone loss coming at Louisville (59-54), before dropping three of four outings to open 2012. Since that time, head coach Jim Groce's squad has won 16 of 19 games, including the Mid-American Conference Championship over Akron, 64-63.

NCAA Tournament Results: Ohio upset No. 4 seed Michigan, 65-60, in second-round action behind Cooper's game-high 21 points. The Bobcats never trailed in the second half and held the perimeter-oriented Wolverines to 40.7 percent shooting for the game. The No. 13 seed advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 62-56 victory over No. 12 seed South Florida on Sunday. Offutt scored a game-high 21 points and the Bobcats connected on 9-of-18 3-pointers to rally from a six-point halftime deficit.

Cooper Ballin': Cooper – checking in at 5-11 and 178 pounds – earned first-team All-MAC honors for the second year in a row after averaging 14.9 points, 5.7 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. The junior guard recorded the first triple-double in school history with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Portland in December and already owns the school record for all-time assists and is three steals away from tying another all-time mark.

Size Concerns: Ohio ranks 191st nationally in rebounding margin (minus-0.2) and 227th in blocked shots (2.9), which helps to understand its lack of size in the post. The Bobcats' starting frontcourt runs 6-3, 6-7 and 6-8. Forwards Ivo Baltic (6-8, 215) and Jon Smith (6-7, 190) combine to pull down just 9.6 rebounds per game. It's telling that reserve forward Reggie Keely joined Cooper and Offutt at the media dais on Thursday afternoon. Keely, who is averaging 9.1 points and 5.0 rebounds this season, stands 6-8 and weighs 265 pounds.

Key Stat to Watch: Ohio is 10-7 when outrebounded by its opponent.

Ball Pressure: The Bobcats work around their size problems by putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the ball. They rank fourth nationally in steals per game (9.3), sixth in turnover margin (plus-4.2) and 11th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (29.3). Ohio is also holding opponents to 41.2 percent shooting, good for 71st nationally.

Perimeter Success Required: The Bobcats fire at will from long range. Ohio is attempting 21.6 3-pointers and making 7.4 per game, good for a 34.2 percentage (162nd nationally).

Random Fact of the Day: The Bobcats are 21-0 when shooting 40 percent or higher.

Last Meeting: The Bobcats defeated UNC, 86-78, on Feb. 19, 2002, at the Smith Center. Ohio led by as many as 18 points in the second half.

Series History: North Carolina is 1-1 all-time against Ohio.

Projected Starters:
5 D.J. Cooper (5-11, 165, Jr.) - 14.9 ppg, 5.7 apg
3 Walter Offutt (6-3, 190, Jr.) - 12.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg
15 Nick Kellogg (6-3, 185, So.) - 8.8 ppg, 1.9 rpg
21 Jon Smith (6-7, 190, So.) - 3.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg
23 Ivo Baltic (6-8, 214, Jr.) - 8.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg

Top Reserves:
30 Reggie Keely (6-8, 263, Jr.) - 9.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg
13 T.J. Hall (6-6, 210, So.) - 3.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg

OU Info
Roster & Bios

(Photos by US Presswire)

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