The state of Ohio is the basketball epicenter of the United States.
Okay, maybe that’s going too far, but Ohio is not only weathering the March Madness storm, the state is represented by four teams who are excelling and peaking on the game’s biggest stage.
The Ohio State Buckeyes (2), Cincinnati Bearcats (6), Xavier Musketeers (10), and Ohio Bobcats (13) have all advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and are merely two victories away from reaching the Final Four.
The Bobcats have a really tough draw in the Sweet Sixteen with the North Carolina Tar Heels, but the Heels just lost arguably their most valuable player—point guard Kendall Marshall—to a broken wrist on his strong hand. If Marshall is unable to play, it could present a big advantage for Ohio, though Carolina’s length and athleticism will still be tough to handle.
Xavier also has a tough matchup, taking on the athletic Baylor Bears. That being said, Baylor was nearly upset in the first round by South Dakota State before taking over late in the game, and Baylor is a really tough out because they can shoot threes as well as run the floor as well as almost any team in the tournament. There is a reason they were undefeated at one point in the regular season.
Ohio State is going to take on one of their in-state foes in the Cincinnati Bearcats. Cincinnati is a very talented team, especially defensively and they really came on late in the season, especially in the Big East tournament.
The Buckeyes don’t strike me as a true elite team, but they keep on winning and keep on impressing. Whether or not Cincinnati can handle Jared Sullinger inside remains to be seen, but it will certainly be an interesting matchup to watch.
Keep checking back to SB Nation Cleveland for more updates on all of the Ohio teams as they vie for position in the 2012 NCAA tournament.