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Arizona-Ohio State: What they’re saying

Sean Miller

Sean Miller and Arizona will try to take the next step to the regional final. Photo by Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The sixth-seeded Arizona Wildcats take on No. 2 Ohio State in the West region on Thursday (4:47 p.m., TBS,), and here is a sampling of what other media is saying about the matchup:

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ESPN’s Myron Medcalf reseeded the Sweet 16 and put the Wildcats 10th, one spot behind Oregon and just ahead of Kansas. He wrote:

“The Wildcats had a good weekend. They beat Belmont by 15 points and Harvard by 23 points. In both games, they shot better than 55 percent, and Mark Lyons was the leader Sean Miller will need him to be in Los Angeles. But, by no fault of their own, the Wildcats had one of the easiest paths to the Sweet 16. Ohio State is on a different level than the Crimson and the Bruins. So I still say a Wildcats squad that has gone 4-3 since Feb. 27 has something to prove at Staples Center. The Cats have been up and down all season. This is their chance to show the college basketball world that they’re not just a team that caught a few lucky breaks with its region and opponents on its way to the Sweet 16.”

Jeff Borzello at CBSSports.com also reseeded the Sweet 16, picking Arizona as the 11th-best team left.

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Andy Glockner of SI.com writes that this is the “burning question” of the West region:

Can Arizona’s multiple ballhandlers defuse the impact of Aaron Craft? All season long, the Wildcats have had some struggles with turnovers and with cleanly executing halfcourt offense, in part because their bigs are freshmen and in part because they don’t have a pure point guard running things. In this matchup, though, the Wildcats can have whichever of Mark Lyons or Nick Johnson is not being guarded by Craft bring the ball up and take their chances against a secondary Buckeyes defender. If Craft is forced to defend more off the ball, the Wildcats should have a better time running their stuff.

Read more of Glockner’s West region analysis

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USA Today has a breakdown of each of the Sweet 16 games. Here is a look at Arizona-Ohio State:

“Is this the de facto West regional final? There’s an argument to be made that’s the case in a game involving the Big Ten tournament champions and probably the most complete team in the Pac-12.

“(It’s also worth noting the last time Wichita State was in a regional semifinal, the setup was similar. Connecticut and Washington played in the high-profile game of that regional, while Wichita State faced a nifty local team by the name of George Mason. We all know how that turned out in 2006).

“Few players in the country are as consistent as Deshaun Thomas and as clever as Aaron Craft. Maybe one of the Buckeyes’ greatest advantages is that they know they’ll get high-level performances from two of their starters each night, which is more than most teams enjoy.

“Arizona has won two straight with ease, upending 11th-seeded Belmont and 14th-seeded Belmont. This will be a far trickier test, and Ohio State coach Thad Matta’s 14-4 record in the first game at an NCAA tournament site suggests the Buckeyes will be fully prepared for the trouble the Wildcats will pose.”

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Rob Dauster of CollegeBasketballTalk.com calls Mark Lyons the key player in the West region:

“Sean Miller made the comparison over the weekend that Lyons is like a running quarterback on a football, and I think that’s a fair opinion. He’s not a standard issue point guard, but he’s talented, he’s gutty and he’s a veteran that has made big plays in big situations throughout his career. Arizona’s offense runs through him, but he’ll have his work cut out for him going up against Aaron Craft in the Sweet 16.”

Read Dauster’s full reset of the West region

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Eric Prisbell in this video at USAToday.com picks Arizona to advance to the Final Four. “Those who bailed on Arizona after their uneven regular season, shame on you,” he says. “The Wildcats are now playing like most thought they would before the year.”

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Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch breaks down the state of the Buckeyes in the Sweet 16. Here is a excerpt:

“The Buckeyes have climbed to fourth in Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency rating behind Florida, Louisville and Indiana. They’re peaking at the best possible time, obviously, and they have the easiest regional bracket left. The question now is: Are they even better than fans thought they would be? In November, this seemed to be as far as many thought they would get after they lost Jared Sullinger and William Buford and added no pop in recruiting. This is also the point where two of Matta’s better Ohio State teams, in 2010 and ’11, bit the dust. Is this team out of surprises?”

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Four college basketball writers from CBSSports.com are split on the winner of the Arizona-Ohio State game.

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This member of the Arizona pep band is letting his moves do the talking:

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