Saturday , Mar , 31 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Final Four fray pits Hoyas against Buckeyes

Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) – The Georgetown Hoyas and Ohio State Buckeyes
lock horns in the first of two Final Four matchups tonight, with the winner
moving onto Monday’s national championship game against either defending
champ Florida or last year’s runner-up UCLA.

Both teams have hit 30 wins this season, with Georgetown logging a 30-6 mark
and Ohio State staking claim to a 34-3 ledger. The Hoyas, under the guidance
of third-year head coach John Thompson III, have won at least 20 games in
three of the last four years, and they took care of Belmont (80-55), Boston
College (62-55), Vanderbilt (66-65) and North Carolina (96-84 OT) on the way
to their fifth Final Four appearance and first since 1985. Georgetown,
winners of eight straight and 19 of its last 20 games overall, won the 1984
national title.

As for Thad Matta’s Buckeyes, they are the No. 1 team in the land at the
moment, and for good reason. Ohio State, like its counterpart in the
Big East, won the Big Ten regular season title as well as the conference
tournament crown this year. The Buckeyes are playing in their 20th NCAA
Tournament and own a 36-18 record in the event, using wins over Central
Connecticut State (78-57), Xavier (78-71), Tennessee (85-84) and Memphis
(92-76) to reach the Final Four for the ninth time in their history, but
just the first since 1968.

The all-time series between these two programs is knotted at two wins apiece,
and both of GU’s triumphs have come in the NCAA Tournament, including last
year’s 70-52 victory that knocked the Buckeyes out in the second round.

This bout features two of the best big men in the country as GU’s Roy Hibbert
will duke it out with OSU’s Greg Oden. Hibbert, a sizzling 67 percent shooter
from the field who is averaging 12.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game this
season, has elevated his game here in the NCAA Tournament, touting averages of
13.0 points and 11.5 caroms per contest. A game-changer in terms of how the
opposition attacks the basket, Hibbert has notched 89 blocks and is joined by
the reigning Big East Conference Player of the Year, Jeff Green, in giving the
Hoyas one of the more formidable frontcourt duos in the country. Green, who
became the first GU player since Allen Iverson to pick up AP All-America honors
(Third-Team) this year, is averaging 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per outing,
and he too has picked it up in Georgetown’s run to the Final Four, netting 15.8
ppg while grabbing 7.0 rpg. Both players are shooting in excess of 53 percent
from the floor over the last four games, and the two combined for 35 points and
20 rebounds in the recent win over North Carolina. Three other Hoyas finished
in double figures in the overtime victory, as Georgetown shot 57.6 percent from
the floor, which included a 57.1 percent effort from three-point land. Holding
the top-seeded Tar Heels to just 35.2 percent shooting proved crucial, and the
Hoyas won despite being outscored at the foul line, 29-12.

As mentioned, Ohio State’s Greg Oden is one of the best low-post players in the
nation, and the talented freshman comes into this contest averaging 15.4 points
and 9.5 rebounds per game. A 61.6 percent shooter who has also logged 100
blocks this year, Oden can control a game by himself. Fortunately, he doesn’t
need to do that all that often as considerable talent rules in the form of
fellow rookie Mike Conley Jr. (11.0 ppg, 6.1 apg) and double-digit scorers Ron
Lewis (12.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and Daequan Cook (10.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg). Conley Jr. was
named the South Region MVP in helping lead the Buckeyes to wins over Tennessee
and Memphis last week, while Oden and Lewis joined him on the all-region team.
Lewis scored a combined 47 points in the two wins, while Oden turned in 17
points on a near-perfect 7-of-8 showing from the field against Memphis. Oden
was named an AP First Team All-American, making him the first Buckeye to be so
honored since Jim Jackson back in 1992, and only the second since 1964. Ohio
State is a solid defensive team, allowing just 61.4 ppg on 39.9 percent
shooting from the field. With Oden leading the way, the Buckeyes have swatted
an amazing 211 shots this season (nearly six per game).