Friday , Mar , 17 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Wildcats take on Buckeyes in NCAA Tourney first-round action

=== Wildcats take on Buckeyes in NCAA Tourney first-round action ===

(Sports Network) – Thirty-six years ago the Ohio State Buckeyes earned the
right to call themselves the top team in the land as they won the 1960 NCAA
Tournament, so the squad is a bit overdue for another run at a crown as they
open the 68th annual event with a meeting against the Davidson Wildcats
close to home at Dayton Arena. But before any celebrating in Columbus can
take place, the sixth-ranked and second-seeded Buckeyes still have to
wrestle with the fact that just a week ago the program was placed on three
years probation by the NCAA because of rules infractions that wipe out
records from four NCAA Tournament appearances, including the squad’s trip
to the Final Four in 1999. But with that decision aside, there’s much for OSU
to look forward to because the team is not being kept from the postseason
and was on a seven-game win streak before losing to Iowa in the Big Ten
Conference Tournament title game on Sunday. Ohio State is making its 22nd
appearance in the NCAA Tournament, heading into this contest with a mark of
37-21.

As for the Wildcats, with this being their eighth trip, they’ve made their
way to Dayton and the Minneapolis Region thanks to an 80-55 thrashing of
Chattanooga in the Southern Conference Championship 12 days ago. With the
win Davidson, which is now 5-8 in the tourney over the years, has won four
straight games and six of the last seven overall. As far as the all-time
series is concerned, the Wildcats actually lead the Buckeyes by a count of
3-2 since their first meeting back in 1963. After losing the first three
meetings, OSU won three straight as well, but the victory in the most recent
affair during the 2002 NCAA Tournament had to be vacated because of recent
penalties assessed to the program. The winner of this game will face off
against the winner of the Northern Iowa/Georgetown clash in the second round
on Sunday.

Davidson head into the tournament as the second-leading scoring team in the
Southern Conference with 78 ppg, which means having a scoring defense giving
up 68.9 ppg has the Wildcats first in the league in scoring margin at +9.1
ppg. Davidson was first in free-throw percentage (.761) and second from behind
the three-point line (.373), while placing first in field goal shooting
defense (.422). The squad was also second in terms of rebounding with an even
39 boards per game and yet Davidson’s presence in the paint on defense was far
from intimidating as the program was last in the league in blocked shots with
only 1.6 rejections per outing. But the squad picked up for that weak area by
placing third in the country in assists with 18.5 per game.

Brendan Winters led a trio of double-digit scorers for the Wildcats with
his 17.1 ppg, shooting 84 percent at the charity stripe to lead the unit to
the top spot in the SoCon. Ian Johnson was responsible for 15.7 ppg and was
second in rebounds with another 6.2 rpg, while Jason Morton checked in with
10.9 ppg even though he started just one game and averaged barely 20 minutes
per contest.

Ohio State didn’t have the best winning percentage in the Big Ten by sheer
luck, it took an aggressive offense that placed first in the league with 74.7
ppg and a defense that was fourth in the conference giving up 63.5 ppg. The
squad was particularly tough when it came to defending three-point shots,
limiting opponents to just 30.7 percent success through 30 games. OSU had some
issues rebounding the ball, grabbing just 34 rpg to place sixth in the Big
Ten, while permitting teams to grab 34.3 rpg, which means the Buckeyes were
one of just two schools in the league (Northwestern) with a negative
rebounding margin at -0.2 rpg. What the team did have going in its favor was
an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.29 that had them first in the conference.

As one of the five players currently scoring in double figures for the
Buckeyes, Terence Dials tops the list with 15.0 ppg and is also first
with eight rebounds per game, which was more than enough to get him named
the Big Ten Player of the Year. Je’Kel Foster chips in 12.4 ppg, Ron
Lewis 11.3 ppg despite coming off the bench in all but six games, while Jamar
Butler and J.J. Sullinger account for 10.2 ppg each as well.

DAVIDSON OHIOST