DAYTON, Ohio - So often in the NCAA Tournament you have teams that are 'ripe' for the upset and countless brackets nationally will have the same double-digit teams advancing because someone convinced them that it was going to happen. Ohio State is not one of those teams being talked about as being on 'upset watch' against Iona and while there are no certainties in basketball it appears that the Buckeyes should advance to the weekend.
There are few teams in the nation that are hotter than the Buckeyes and Aaron Craft is bringing offensive output to compliment his tenacious defensive output and increased scoring from Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross make the Bucks that much more formidable.
Ultimately the Buckeyes will go as far as Deshaun Thomas carries them. Ohio State does not need Thomas to go for 25 points a night but the Buckeyes can't get 16 points on 16 shots from the junior forward and hope to be successful as the number of teams in the tournament dwindles.
Lamont Jones is going to get his for the Gaels of Iona but teams' leading scorers have not fared all that well against Ohio State. Momo is talented enough that he should be good for mid to high teens in scoring but ultimately the Buckeyes have too many horses for the Gaels when the game gets down to crunch time.
Iona will come out and try and run the Buckeyes but it won't take coach Tim Cluess and Iona all that long to realize that Ohio State is not Northwestern or Wisconsin and can be successful without running everything through halfcourt sets. This game has all the makings for a Thompson dunkfest if he gets lose in transition and while the Buckeyes may trail after the first four minute segment, they won't trail the rest of the way.
Last season the Buckeye easily dispatched of Loyola (Md.) out of the MAAC, 78-59 and I expect to see something very similar this time around. Sure, different teams, different styles, different players... but I see very much the same results. Buckeyes advance to the weekend to take on the winner of Notre Dame/Iowa State. Ohio State 78 Iona 59
Ben Axelrod - Staff Writer
The good news for Iona is that the Gaels possess the nation's third-leading scorer in Lamont Jones. The bad news? He'll be covered by the nation's best defender in Aaron Craft. I don't see Jones topping 15 points against Craft, or any of Ohio State's other capable defenders like Shannon Scott and Lenzelle Smith Jr.
The Buckeyes are arguably the country's hottest team, entering the tournament on an eight game winning streak, and with those eight wins coming against Big Ten teams, it's not coming to an end with an MAAC team.
Ohio State might struggle early, but this one should be over by the half. I expect a big night defensively from Craft, and for Thomas to boost his tournament scoring average early with a 30-point performance, aided by 12-15 points from sophomore forward LaQuinton Ross. Ohio State 84, Iona 67
Marc Givler - Recruiting Analyst
After a bruising Big Ten tournament run, Ohio State was able to get some much needed rest this week and re-charge the batteries. Iona certainly presents an interesting challenge for the Buckeyes with its ability score often and score efficiently.
This particular Ohio State team is not one that has wanted to play games in the high 70's and 80's where Iona will surely want this thing. The Buckeyes have done a good job of slowing teams down this year defensively and with the pressure that players like Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott can put on the ball, they should be able to once again slow things down and play at the pace they are comfortable playing. Ohio State 72 Iona 61