NCAA Tournament: (1) Ohio State Clashes With (8) George Mason

CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 18: Mike Morrison #22 of the George Mason Patriots celebrates late in the second half against the Villanova Wildcats during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 18, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

This is not your grandpa's everyday, 2006 George Mason team... or is it?

The Patriots of yore (the basketball team, not the guys who fought the Red Coats) were a sneaky-good CAA team that got into the field of 64 via a controversial at-large bid after losing to Hofstra in their conference tournament. So, in honor of Billy Packer's blasting of mid-majors in 2006, George Mason pulled off four straight wins and got to the Final Four, where they would lose to eventual National Champion Florida.

GMU's 2006 run (along with Sweet Sixteen teams Wichita State and Bradley) was one of the most captivating in the history of college basketball, and now Jim Larranaga has a new batch of kids itching to top the famous 2006 squad. They'll have their chance at getting one step closer to their goal today against the number one overall seed, Ohio State.

Ohio State came out of the gate flat against first round opponent UTSA, but they quickly got hot and took out the Roadrunners with ease. Now they'll be getting a test against another mid-major, but one with triple the talent and drive to win. And after seeing what the Bulldogs of Butler did to fellow one-seed Pitt, the Buckeyes had better not put their guard down.

Follow me after the jump to see how these teams match up statistically, and get more thoughts from yours truly on whether or not the Patriots can ruin even more brackets by topping Sullinger and Co...

Stat Breakdown

 

The George Mason team that made it to the Final Four in 2006 was incredibly balanced, with numerous players averaging at or close to double digits. This year, the Patriots have three players averaging double figures and one player at 9 points per game. If you're a fan of team-oriented basketball, then this is the match-up for you.

 

OSU

OSU Opp.

GMU

GMU Opp.

Pace (# of Possessions)

55

Points Per Possession

1.20

0.92

1.12

0.95

Points Per Minute

1.93

1.50

1.82

1.53

Points Per Shot (PPS)

1.38

1.11

1.33

1.13

2-PT FG%

53.4%

46.9%

50.7%

45.1%

3-PT FG%

41.6%

33.6%

39.4%

31.4%

FT%

70.4%

N/A

68.8%

N/A

True Shooting%

68%

51%

57%

49.6%

 

 

 

 

 

Assists Per Game

15.9

11.4

14.2

11.2

Steals Per Game

7.1

4.1

6.6

5.3

TOV Per Game

10.3

15

10.9

13.5

Ball Control Index (BCI)

(Assists + Steals/ TOVs)

2.23

1.03

1.91

1.22

 

 

 

 

 

Total Rebs Per Game

34.5

29.6

32.8

32.8

Offensive Rebs Per Game

11.2

9.2

10.6

11.1


 

Does anything look similar to you? Ohio State and George Mason's basic stats actually look fairly similar to one another; they're both teams that wins games with an efficient offense, stingy defense, and good control of pace/ ball-handling (which is how most good teams win ball games, shockingly enough).

The two main differences between the two teams (other than the fact that the Buckeye offense is slightly better on paper than that of the Patriot offense) are rebounding and conference.

Ohio State gives up fewer rebounds to their opponents than George Mason, and the Patriots also grab few total than the Buckeyes. This is simply a matter of size difference between the two teams (yes, Ohio State is bigger down low, and should be looking to take advantage against George Mason).

The other big thing is that while GMU's stats are very close to the Buckeye's, one must remember that the CAA is simply not the same level of competition as the Big Ten. Now, the CAA is still a great mid-major conference with quality talent (just look at VCU and Old Dominion), but there is just not as much parity as that of the Big Ten, which was dominated by the Buckeyes this season.

Ken Pomeroy Stats

OSU Offense vs GMU Defense Ranks

 

OSU Offense

GMU Defense

Advantage

Efficiency

2

38

OSU

Effective FG%

3

31

OSU

Turnover %

8

135

OSU Big

Off. Reb. %

66

94

OSU

FTA/FGA

191

58

GMU Big

GMU Offense vs OSU Defense Ranks

 

GMU Offense

OSU Defense

Advantage

Efficiency

30

7

OSU

Effective FG%

23

123

GMU Big

Turnover %

14

27

GMU

Off. Reb %

156

23

OSU Big

FTA/FGA

122

1

OSU Big

Perhaps the only real thing that the Kenpom stats here do (other than reiterate that OSU has at the least slight advantages in most of the categories) is show just how important every little thing is to George Mason. If the Patriots want to even think of pulling off the upset, they will have to play to their strengths (ball control, shooting percentages, FTA/FGA) and also do their damnedest to stay even in the categories that favor the Buckeyes. In other words, it will take a perfect game from George Mason, or a horrible game from Ohio State, for the Patriots to win this. Nothing new for an 8/1 match-up.

Final Verdict

If you have not deduced by now, yes, I will be a fan of the green and gold today. No offense to Ohio State, who has a damn fine team with more than enough talent to win the National Championship, but I'm just a guy that roots for the underdog.

Now, I am going to predict a 70-63 win for Ohio State. I'm going to assume that Thad Matta has now drilled the results of the Pittsburgh/ Butler game into the heads of his players (that game may be the worst thing to happen to George Mason) and this will lead to an ultra-focused Ohio State team that systematically takes care of the Patriots.

That said, one could think that Jim Larranaga has now convinced his players that Ohio State is going to come out focused after seeing Pitt fall, which will lead the Patriots to play extra hard and stay in the game.

Obviously I'm now over-analyzing this way too much. What I leave you with is this; go in expecting and Ohio State win, but don't be too surprised if anything crazy happens. This is March, after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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