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No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 9 Kansas preview: Final Four redux in Columbus

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The Jayhawks bounced the Buckeyes from the Big Dance last season, and the Ohio State has revenge on their minds

Jamie Squire

No Thomas Robinson. No Jared Sullinger. Same motivation.

While there aren't very many of the same faces from this April left on either No. 7 Ohio State or No. 9 Kansas' rosters, both teams certainly know that their seasons start this Saturday in a Final Four rematch in Columbus.

For Ohio State, whose only test so far this season was No. 2 Duke back in November, a win at home would give some added credibility to their top-ten ranking and prepare them for a brutal slate ahead in the Big Ten conference.

The Buckeyes' hopes rest on two factors: the play of Deshaun Thomas, who scores 20.4 and pulls down 6.9 rebounds every game, and how they'll get past the tough Kansas defense, highlighted by the shot-blocking abilities of Jeff Withey. The senior from San Diego has 54 blocks so far this season, making him the early frontrunner for national defensive player of the year.

For Kansas, the story is much the same -- the Jayhawks don't want to leave the nonconference schedule with two losses to the only two ranked teams they've played.

Naturally, they'll have to keep Thomas' scoring in check and get their own backcourt of Travis Releford and Ben McLemore to keep their hands hot -- McLemore is averaging 19 points per game over the last four games while Releford paces an offense that score 77.8 points per game.

Both teams can jump-start their hopes for a high national seed come tournament time with a big win this weekend, but only one team is looking for revenge.

All in all, it adds up to what's sure to be a dynamite matchup in Columbus.