DAYTON, Ohio - On Friday night the Buckeyes drew the No. 2 scoring offense in all of Division I in Iona (80.7 ppg.) and on Sunday afternoon the Buckeyes don't get much of a reprieve in going against the No. 4 scoring offense in Iowa State (79.6 ppg.).
That is what the NCAA Tournament is all about however, playing the best of the best to find out who is the lone team standing at the end. The Cyclones also lead the nation in three-pointers made per game with 9.8 per contest. By comparison, Illinois led the Big Ten at 7.8.
But just because the Cyclones shoot more than 40-pecent of their attempts from beyond the arc, don't confuse them with a finesse team that doesn't get after it as well.
"We know that Iowa State is a tough, physical basketball team," Sam Thompson said. "I know they're experienced and they've been here before. We think the rigors of the Big Ten season have prepared us well for a physical game and we feel if we match their intensity, good things will happen for us."
The Cyclones lost in the Big XII tournament to Kansas (lost three times to the Jayhawks) but overall have been playing some of their best basketball of the season down the stretch. Iowa State is not going to confuse anyone as a defensive-minded team but did hold the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame to 58 points in the second round of the tournament and can force teams into making bad decisions.
"Iowa State does a great job of spreading you out and they've shown that they can hurt you in both ways," Thad Matta said. "As we've told our guys, it's kind of a do-both type game. We've got to guard inside, we've got to guard outside, we've got to guard in-between, they've got midrange players. It's definitely going to be a great challenge."
Iowa State has six players averaging more than nine points a game and four players who average in double figures, so there is not just one person that an opponent can try and deny and that will create issues. Will Clyburn leads the way with 14.9 points per game but on Friday night it was Georges Niang that led the way with 19 points and Melvin Ejim had 17.
"I view these guys as offensively - there's a lot of ways - they put a lot of points on the board, and obviously transition defense will be paramount," Matta added.
The Buckeyes and the Cyclones have three common opponents in the regular season with both teams beating Missouri-Kansas City (Ohio State: 91-45, Iowa State 76-61), the Buckeyes taking down Iowa once while ISU lose (Ohio State 72-63, Iowa State 80-71) and both teams losing to Kansas (Ohio State 74-66, Iowa State lost three times).
But ultimately the staff and the players won't put any stock in past performance as the only thing that matters is what happens on Sunday in Dayton with a berth in the Sweet Sixteen on the line.