Ohio State hopes Oden is difference in rematch with Hoyas

Associated Press • Mar 30, 2007 at 12:18 PM

ATLANTA - One year ago, it was painfully easy for Thad Matta to understand why his Ohio State team couldn't keep pace with Georgetown.

Georgetown's inside duo of Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green made the Buckeyes look undersized and overwhelmed.

The 7-foot-2 Hibbert and 6-9 Green combined for 39 points, 22 rebounds and four blocked shots in the Hoyas' 70-52 runaway win over Ohio State in the second round of last year's NCAA tournament. Overall, Georgetown outrebounded Ohio State 37-24.

After the game, Matta made a prophetic look ahead as he considered the arrival of his celebrated signee, 7-foot center Greg Oden.

"Next year, we won't have that problem," Matta said, referring to the size disadvantage.

Matta couldn't know then that he would have a rematch with Georgetown this season, especially in the spotlight of Saturday night's Final Four.

The Ohio State-Georgetown game will produce one finalist for the title of best team in the nation. For added glamour, the game also may determine who's the better center - Oden or Hibbert.

"It's going to be a big challenge," Oden said. "He's a great player. We are similar players. We both play really strong and block a lot of shots. It's going to be difficult, for sure."

Oden, a first-team All-America, has overcome surgery on his right wrist to post team-leading averages of 15.4 points and 9.5 rebounds. He is viewed as a possible first pick in this year's NBA draft.

Hibbert is rated by NBAdraft.net as the second-best center in the draft, but a strong game against Oden could boost his status.

"It's not too often we have two low-post centers going against each other, particularly this late in the tournament," said Georgetown coach John Thompson III.

"I think they're both very good players. It's something that people are talking about."

Oden matched Jerry Lucas in 1960 as the only Ohio State players to post four straight postseason double-doubles, including two Big Ten tournament games and the Buckeyes' first two NCAA games.

Hibbert brings a streak of five straight double-doubles to the Final Four. Green has scored in double figures in 17 of his last 18 games.

"I think we will be OK," Buckeyes forward Ivan Harris said. "We are athletic and quick and we play smart. As long as we do what the coaches say, we will be fine."

Recommended for You

    Kingsport Times News Videos