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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 7:00 AM

With so many great matchups in the Sweet 16 this week, we’re going to do a couple of bonus previews for you here in the VSM blog. You’ve probably already studied the key numbers in the Syracuse/Indiana game scheduled for Thursday Night in Washington. Let’s do the same for the Arizona/Ohio State game set for Thursday Night in Los Angeles.



Arizona: 27-7 (12-6 in the Pac 12)

Ohio State: 28-7 (13-5 in the Big 10)

It’s important to remember here that Arizona was supposed to win the Pac 12 this year, and those six conference losses all came as favorites. While, Ohio State was supposed to be around fifth best (or worse) in the Big 10…and those five league losses represent a success story in a brutal conference. Now, it could turn out that the Big 10 was a bit overrated (Indiana and Ohio State both almost lost last Sunday, while the Michigan schools were enjoying a home state perk). And, maybe Oregon and Arizona are about to show us that the Pac 12 can still play with anybody. For now, Ohio State has the better record in context.



Arizona: #16 with Sagarin, #15 with Pomeroy

Ohio State: #4 with Sagarin, #5 with Pomeroy

And, that’s why they rank 10-11 spots better than Arizona according to Jeff Sagarin of USA Today and college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy. What’s amazing here is that Ohio State was projected only for about a #6 seed about halfway through Big 10 action. They’ve now surged to where the computers see them as one of the five best teams in the nation! Arizona had dropped way off the pace during their Pac 12 slump, but are now seen as being justified as a Sweet 16 team even though the Seeding Committee only had them as a #6 team rather than top four.



Arizona: #38 with Sagarin, #30 with Pomeroy

Ohio State: #9 with Sagarin, #8 with Pomeroy

Ohio State gets a lot of credit for playing in the tough Big 10. The Pac 12 has mostly not impressed in the postseason outside of Oregon’s upsets of Oklahoma State and Saint Louis (Arizona’s wins came over Belmont and Harvard in a very fortunate bracket). Tough to argue with those assessments though things are still fluid. There are some in the field who would tell you those teams are too CLOSE, with the Pac 12 not nearly deserving so much respect.



Arizona: 3-4

Ohio State: 10-7

Arizona managed to go 0-3 vs. UCLA, which is tough to do considering how inconsistent the Bruins were this season. That keeps Arizona as a darkhorse with spoiler potential rather than a true championship threat. Though, again, if they upset Ohio State, they get the winner of LaSalle/Wichita State to continue one of the friendliest Dance paths ever! Ohio State’s 10-7 mark establishes them as a top notch team, but not really a championship threat. We’ve seen teams winning better than 60-65% of their games vs. quality. Ohio State would barely sneak into the 60’s with a win here.



Arizona: #16

Ohio State: #12

Moving to the chess match…both teams have very good offenses once you adjust for tempo and strength of schedule. We’ve been pointing out all season that Ohio State’s offense was better than the media was giving them credit for. A slower than average pace in a tough conference created the illusion of struggles. They actually have inside out versatility and brains. Though they had to sweat the Iowa State game Sunday, they shot 50% or better on two’s and three’s while only losing the ball 9 times. Iowa State had to hit a bunch of treys to make that a game.



Arizona: #32

Ohio State: #7

This is why the computers love Ohio State so much. They have a great defense AND an offense that’s better than everyone realizes. Arizona’s defense falls into that category too. They’re seen as a soft team that beats people with offense. That’s pace-related in the other direction because they play at a fast tempo. The media will probably figure this out some time by 2025. Edge to Ohio State on both sides of the ball. But, not so big an edge that Arizona isn’t capable of stealing a win with a hot run from the field.



Arizona: #131

Ohio State: #222

We imagine Ohio State is afraid of getting into a running game with Arizona, so they’ll probably play slower than what you see above. We expect a definite pace battle here as both teams try to force tempo into their comfort zone. The team that does that will likely win and cover.



Most of the categories favor Ohio State. And, if you assume that playoff basketball tends to slow down by its very nature, then the game is more likely to be played in their comfort zone. Of course, Vegas didn’t make this a pick-em. Ohio State is favored by four points. Does that properly capture the differences you just read? Meaning no edge? Or, has Vegas missed the mark in one direction or the other.

This is likely to be a selection for NETWORK clients, so we can’t post a play for you here in the NOTEBOOK. We can tell you that information we’re hearing from our sources out at the Staples Center has influenced the final call. You can purchase the official Thursday slate from MARCH MADNESS and the NBA right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about our service, call the office at 1-800-323-4453. 

The official Friday NOTEBOOK entry will discuss Michigan State/Duke, perhaps the most anticipated of the Sweet 16 showcase games. Some see that as a Final Four type game in the Round of 16! We’ve scheduled a bonus report for the blog that will crunch the numbers from our key indicator categories in Michigan/Kansas as well. Be sure you keep turning MARCH MADNESS into MONEY MADNESS with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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