LOS ANGELES - The Buckeyes used Friday as a day for a practice session on the floor of the Staples Center and a chance to meet with the media to talk about their upcoming game with Wichita State for a trip to the Final Four on the line.
Last season the Buckeyes had to defeat Syracuse in the Regional Finals to get to New Orleans and took care of business in a 77-70 win over the Orange to punch their ticket. But it was different in the fact that Syracuse was a No. 1 seed and Saturday's opponent, Wichita State, is a No. 9 seed and from the Missouri Valley Conference rather than a power conference like the Big East.
But none of that matters to the Ohio State players and coaches when it comes to the end of the day. The Shockers upset the No. 1 seed in the west and proved on that night they were the better team and WSU is not going to forget that they can compete on the biggest of stages, even if they are not playing in front of 18-thousand seat arenas several times a week.
"They're absolutely supposed to be here," Sam Thompson said. "They're a great team. They have a lot of talent. They play hard. They are a team that's on a roll right now. They're playing their best basketball of the season just like we're playing our best basketball of the season."
The Shockers self-identify themselves as a team that is built on defense and on rebounding but Wichita State can put points up on the board too, especially if you don't respect their outside shooting or do a good job of denying them more than one shot per offensive trip.
"They've got a good mix of they'll hit you in transition but then they can also pull it out and run the sets that they run," head coach Thad Matta said.
And while players like Malcolm Armstead, Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall may not be at the top of the recruiting rankings when they came out of school, head coach Gregg Marshall did a good job in identifying the talent that would work in his program and the Shockers would reach the 30-win mark if they were able to beat Ohio State.
"They've obviously chosen a great system to play in," Matta added. "Coach Marshall has done a tremendous job in terms of putting those guys in a position to be successful. I think so much of it is probably more of hat it is than what you were tabbed as coming out of high school. That doesn't mean a whole lot to me in terms if your ranking of the recruiting class and all that stuff."
We caught up with the Buckeyes here on the media day and talked to them about what they see when they put in the tape of Wichita State. In addition we talked to Deshaun Thomas about his maturation as a defensive player and Thompson about what he has seen on television from "Dunk City" a.k.a. Florida Gulf Coast University. Check out the video at the top of the page for all of that.