Tennessee vs. Ohio State
With the early exits of super heavyweights Kansas and Georgetown, the Midwest Region appears to be in shambles. #2 seed Ohio State isnt complaining though. Their route to the Final Four got a lot easier after the second round. They have put together a strong season and expect nothing less than a trip to Indianapolis and an opportunity to play for the National Title. It wont come easy though. The Tennessee Volunteers have been giant killers in 2010. They took down #1 Kansas and #2 Kentucky during the regular season. Ohio State pales in comparison to those teams. It will still take a monumental effort from the Vols to advance to the Elite Eight.
It wasnt a pretty win, but the sixth seeded Volunteers took down San Diego State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament 62-59. It was a balanced effort for Tennessee with 4 players reaching double digits in scoring. G JP Prince had 15 points in 5 of 9 shooting and 8 rebounds. G Melvin Goins ignited the Vols with 15 points. He sank 4 of 5 three point attempts. Tennessee shot only 38.5% as a team. They were fair from the free throw line sinking 14 of 18 attempts. This team needs more production from F-C Wayne Chism. He had 11 points on 4-12 shooting and only 5 rebounds. If he has a big Game they can beat the Buckeyes. If he doesnt they are going to be in trouble.
In the second round Tennessee handily defeated the Ohio Bobcats who were still flying high after defeating Georgetown in a matchup similar to David and Goliath. JP Prince had another great Game with 18 points. Shooting as a team was much better as the Vols connected at 56.7%. Wayne Chism didnt light the scoreboard up with 9 points, but made up for it by grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists. Free throw shooting was poor at 10 of 18. They cant shoot that poorly from the charity stripe and hope to beat a team like Ohio State.
The Ohio State Buckeyes entered the Big Dance after taking the Big 10 Tournament. They stayed alive in the first round by sinking Michigan with a miracle last second shot. They then survived overtime against Illinois. The Championship Game wasnt nearly as close as the first two. They delivered a blow out win over Minnesota. The Bucks crushed UC Santa Barbara in the first round 68-51. Evan Turner had a slow night going 2-13 for 9 points, but Jon Diebler made up for it by draining 7 three pointers en route to 23 points.
The second round put Ohio State against a wily Georgia Tech team. Ohio State led for the entire second half and put down several attempts to rally by the Yellow Jackets. Evan Turner, a candidate for National Player of the Year, made up for his bad first round by putting up 24 points. He also had 9 rebounds and 9 assists. If he is able to put up those kind of numbers against Tennessee the Buckeyes will win by day light. Jon Diebler and David Lighty combined to Score 38 points. Both players ended the Game with 4 fouls. They must be careful not to pick up fouls against the Vols. William Buford added 9 points and 8 rebounds.
Tennessee is a team capable of beating anyone. Coach Bruce Pearl always has them ready for big Games. This Game will be an even bigger win than those over Kansas and UK if they are able to pull it off. The Ohio State Buckeyes have a very good team and are capable of beating anyone. If they play a Game similar to their last one they will cover the 4 ½ point spread. We think they will. Bet the Buckeyes.
During the course of the regular season in college hoops, Our approach of playing these Games strictly by the numbers works very well. We have so many opportunities on a daily basis and are able to find plenty of Games with wide margins between Our number and the line. However, by the time you get to this point, the Sweet 16, the lines are very tight. The oddsmakers have fewer Games to focus on, and the sportsbooks are taking much larger bets on these Games than they do during the regular season. As a result, just about all of these lines are accurate, unlike say, mid January when the focus is still on football.
With that in mind, a handicapper needs to rely more on other variables this tome of year, even gut reaction based on a season of following these teams. With that in mind, the feeling here is that the Buckeyes pull away late and cover this number. A close Game, but in the end, Ohio State wins by 8 to 10 points. Ohio State -4.5