Who/When: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Kansas, Saturday, 8:49 p.m. (CBS)
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Announcers: Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg
How They Got Here: Ohio State defeated No. 15 Loyola (Md.), 78-59, No. 7 Gonzaga, 73-66, No. 6 Cincinnati, 81-66, and No. 1 Syracuse, 77-70; Kansas defeated No. 15 Detroit, 65-50, No. 10 Purdue, 63-60, No. 11 N.C. State, 60-57, and No. 1 North Carolina, 80-67.
Coaches: Thad Matta (323–95 overall, 221–64 in eight seasons at OSU); Bill Self (475–157 overall, 268–52 in nine seasons at Kansas)
Ohio State in the Final Four:
Overall: 11th appearance (including 1999, when it was vacated)
Last Appearance: 2007, lost to Florida, 84-75, in national title game
Last Championship: 1960, defeated California, 75-55
Number of Titles: 1 (1960)
Kansas in the Final Four:
Overall: 14th appearance
Last Appearance: 2008, defeated Memphis, 75-68, to win national championship
Last Title: 2008, defeated Memphis, 75-68
Number of Titles: 3 (1952, 1988, 2008)
Ohio State’s View: Everything revolves around Jared Sullinger, who missed the Buckeyes' 78-67 loss at Kansas on Dec. 10. In the East Regional Final against Syracuse, Sullinger only played six minutes in the first half because of foul trouble but played the entire second half, finishing with 19 points and seven rebounds. Syracuse didn't have an answer for Sullinger and that ultimately led to their demise. The other big factor in that game, and one that has aided the Buckeyes through the tournament, is defense. They allowed just 59.7 points per game this season, and that tenacity in defending their basketball stretches throughout the entire roster. Guard Aaron Craft only had one steal against Syracuse, but made life miserable for Scoop Jardine all game, which took Syracuse out of its entire offensive rhythm. The other starters — Lenzelle Smith, Jr., William Buford, and Deshaun Thomas — are really good on both ends of the floor. But the team operates much better when Sullinger is playing — and he needs to play more than 26 minutes against Kansas if they're going to return to the national title game.
Kansas’ View: The Jayhawks can play their share of defense too, and they've also got a big man — Thomas Robinson — who makes everything better. Robinson had 18 points and nine rebounds against North Carolina in the regional final, while guard Tyshawn Taylor had 22 points, six rebounds and five assists. But the main reason they defeated the Tar Heels was defense, specifically Self's triangle-and-two scheme that held UNC to seven of 31 shooting after halftime and no baskets over the last 5:46 of regulation. That's the key for the Jayhawks against the Buckeyes too. Ohio State does not boast the same offensive gifts as the Tar Heels, but their defense is much better than North Carolina's system.
Quotable: "Past teams, we just had so many weapons that could score from so many different spots. If we weren't all the way in tune defensively, we could cover that up by making some shots. And we knew at the beginning of the year that it wouldn't be the same." – Tyshawn Taylor
What I Expect: This game could get ugly quickly, but not in the traditional sense of the phrase. It'll be a defensive struggle and a big-time battle between Sullinger and Robinson in the paint. Craft could frustrate Taylor quickly, which will give a pretty big advantage to the Buckeyes. OSU's balance and depth, as well as Sullinger's amazing gifts, will prevail — possibly in overtime.
Prediction: OSU advances to face Kentucky in the national championship game.