The 2012 Final Four features four teams that were ranked in the top 15 in the country when this season started -- a change from the bracket-busted previous three editions. The Saturday evening games will also feature two rematches from the regular season, one the highly touted in-state rivalry game between the Louisville Cardinals and Kentucky Wildcats, and the other less-hyped bout between the Ohio St. Buckeyes and Kansas Jayhawks.
The Jayhawks handed OSU their first and only out-of-conference loss this season in early December. The Buckeyes traveled to Lawrence and faced KU without All-American forward Jared Sullinger, who was held out of the lineup with back spasms. Sullinger is sure to have an impact on Saturday's game, which will likely be decided in the paint and on the glass. Thad Matta discussed the importance of the rebounding margin, and SB Nation's Bill Connelly provided a statistical spotlight on the interior strength that has carried the Buckeyes in March.
But Kansas will counter with its own talented frontcourt duo of Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey. Robinson, the Big 12 Player of the Year, had his way against the Buckeyes in December. Kansas assistant coach Danny Manning discussed the first game with WHB in Kansas City:
"I think for us and for our players we have a chance to really go back, watch tape, and see what the other players did in terms of how good they are in their roles. Aaron Craft is a terrific point guard and in four games you can talk about how well someone does this or does this but not until after you play him do guys realize he is the best on-ball defender in the country and you kind of get a grasp for it. So the biggest thing for us is knowing how talented that team is and then we have to get ready for [Jared] Sullinger because he didn't play. He's a first team All-American, he's a load, and we will have our hands full but it's a challenge that we gladly accept and we're looking forward to it."
There's almost nothing that will keep Sullinger out of the game this time around, so it will certainly be interesting to watch this strength-on-strength matchup. While each are elite post players, Sullinger largely plays below the rim while Robinson has the bounce to dominate with his athleticism. The clash of styles will be a highlight of the second game on Saturday.
For all news and information regarding the Ohio State Buckeyes, please visit Along the Olentangy. For all news and information regarding the Kansas Jayhawks, please visit Rock Chalk Talk. For all your 2012 March Madness needs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NCAA Tournament hub.