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NCAA Basketball Tournament Report: Ohio State and Louisville Headed To 2012 Final Four

Jared Sullinger Final Four
Jim Rogash, Getty Images

Louisville and Ohio State became the first two teams to advance to the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans next weekend. Here’s a recap of Saturday’s regional finals.

East Regional

Ohio State 77 — Syracuse 70
Jared Sullinger had 19 points and seven rebounds and Ohio State beat Syracuse 77-70 on Saturday night in the East Regional final in Boston. With the win, Ohio State (31-7) advanced to the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans next Saturday. They will play the winner of Sunday’s North Carolina-Kansas Midwest Regional final.

With the game tied at halftime after Sullinger spent significant time on the bench in the first half due to foul trouble, the second-seeded Buckeyes took command in the second half before the top-seeded Orange (34-3) clawed back to within three points late. Clutch free throw shooting down the stretch gave Ohio State the victory. It is the second Final Four trip for Ohio State under coach Thad Matta.

Lenzelle Smith, Jr. added 18 points and Deshaun Thomas had 14 points and nine boards for the Buckeyes. Brandon Triche led Syracuse with 15 points, while teammate Scoop Jardine added 14 points and six assists.

West Regional

Louisville 72 — Florida 68
Chane Behanan hit a go-ahead jump shot with 1:06 to play and Louisville used a 23-8 second-half rally to beat Florida 72-68 on Saturday in the West Regional final in Phoenix. The victory allowed the Cardinals (30-9) to advance to the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans next Saturday. They will play the winner of Sunday’s Kentucky-Baylor South Regional final.

After leading by as many as 11 points, Florida (26-11) found themselves down 69-68 after Behanan’s shot. On the ensuing possession, Gators’ freshman Bradley Beal missed a dunk and Erving Walker missed a jump shot. Russ Smith corralled the rebound for Louisville and was fouled. Smith made both free throws to give the fourth-seeded Cardinals a 71-68 lead. Both Beal and Kenny Boynton missed attempts at game-tying 3-point shots on the seventh-seeded Gators’ next possession.

Smith led Louisville with 19 points, while Behanan added 17 points and six rebounds. Point guard Peyton Siva had nine points and eight assists for the Cardinals before fouling out with just under four minutes to play. Beal and Erik Murphy paced Florida with 14 points apiece.

The 2012 Final Four berth is the ninth in school history for Louisville. Head coach Rick Pitino will be making his second Final Four appearance with the Cardinals and sixth overall as a head coach.

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