Four-Point Play: Keys To The Kansas Game

Ohio State and Kansas are hours away from meeting in the Final Four in New Orleans. takes a look at the keys to the game, from OSU's ability to handle KU guard Tyshawn Taylor to the advantage Ohio State could have in the frontcourt.

Will foul trouble affect the game? In the best of worlds for each team, neither uses its bench very often, so anyone in foul trouble could make a big impact. Kansas goes seven deep with its rotation in starters Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson, Tyshawn Taylor and Travis Releford, plus reserve forward Kevin Young and guard Conner Teahan. Young had a career high 14 points in Kansas' early win against Ohio State but averages only 3.6 per game. The 6-8 forward also grabs 2.9 rebounds per game, but at just 195 pounds, he doesn't match up great physically with the Buckeyes' interior. Teahan is a redshirt senior who shoots 74.6 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.

Kansas also has sophomore forward Justin Wesley, who stands 6-9, but he's not a huge impact player much like Young. If either Robinson, a 6-10 forward who is a first-team All-American and averages a double-double, or Withey, a 7-0 center, gets into foul trouble, the Jayhawks are thin inside.

On the other hand, foul trouble affected Ohio State in its Elite Eight victory against Syracuse as first-team All-America forward Jared Sullinger missed 14 minutes in the first half. The Buckeyes got solid contributions in his stead from Evan Ravenel and Amir Williams, but Syracuse was also shorthanded underneath without star center Fab Melo. If Sullinger is off the floor and Withey and Robinson are on it, the Buckeyes will have matchup problems.

Can OSU's athletic frontcourt nullify Withey's shot-blocking? The Kansas center was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year after averaging 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game. He is seventh nationally in that stat and his 129 blocks are a Kansas record.

However, Withey had only two blocks in the first game against Ohio State, and the Buckeyes would seem to have the ability to pull him away from the lane on that end of the floor. Sullinger can step out to hit a three, as he's shown all season, while forward Deshaun Thomas is just as adept at playing beyond the arc as he is closer to the basket. If Withey is matched up on either of those two players, he would have to stray further from the lane than he would like, perhaps opening things up for the Buckeye offense.

Will either team's shooting be affected by the dome atmosphere? It's impossible to tell what the dome effect will be until the game starts, but it's worth discussing because it has appeared to be a major part of the story in a number of recent NCAA Tournament games. Some teams have struggled majorly with shooting percentages of late in domes, including Butler, which shot below 20 percent in last year's national title game loss.

Obviously, the outside shot is important to Ohio State, as having one shooter among Thomas, senior William Buford or sophomore Lenzelle Smith Jr. going off makes the Buckeye offense that much more efficient. The Buckeyes don't need all of them going, but someone has to hit shots. On the other hand, Kansas isn't dependent on the outside shot, but the Jayhawks do have Taylor, Johnson and Teahan, who showed during the season they can hit shots.

Will Taylor go off? Before the start of the NCAA Tournament, Taylor was shooting 43.5 percent from beyond the arc. Since the Big Dance started, he has tried 17 shots from three-point land and made zero, one reason his points per game average has dipped from 17.3 before the tournament started to 12.0 in the first four games. Taylor also has 13 turnovers to go with 15 assists.

The third-team All-America guard has still shown an ability to get to the basket in the postseason, but that could be impacted by the excellent on-ball defense of Aaron Craft and Smith, two of the tougher guards to drive against in the country and two guys who can also force turnovers outside the arc as well. But if Taylor finds his outside shot, it could be big trouble for OSU.

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