The Ohio State Buckeyes are headed to the NCAA tournament as a fairly high seed, and with the potential to make a deep run. The Buckeyes may still have a chance at a share of the Big 10 title as well, depending on how the game between Indiana and Michigan goes. Thad Matta’s team is one of the most efficient teams offensively in the country, and it is mostly due to Ohio State’s variety of talented players. But who will be the most important player when the NCAA tournament starts?
If you take a look at the stats for the team, Deshaun Thomas is the most important player to the team, but, once the NCAA tournament starts, it will be Aaron Craft, not Thomas, who determines how far the Buckeyes go. Thomas is the Buckeyes’ flashy scoring player; the Forward is averaging almost 20 points a game.
Thomas can score from anywhere and everywhere, and very few defenders in the entire country are capable of containing him. On the other hand, Craft averages nearly ten points a game and five assists – stats that don’t seem very impressive next to Thomas. However, Craft must score if Thomas is to succeed.
Craft makes defenders unable to double team Thomas down low. The threat he poses from range and in the lane (and even from passing) causes defenses to have to focus on him rather than other players. Any game that Ohio State wins later in the tournament will depend greatly on Craft’s performance. Every team that Ohio State will play knows that Thomas is the scoring threat, but, with a little help from Craft, the Buckeyes will be able to break through the majority of tough defenses that they will face prolonging their stay in the tournament.