No. 9 Siena Saints (26-7), +3, o/u 141.5 vs. No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes (22-10), University of Dayton Arena, Friday, 9:40 p.m. Eastern
By Oracle of Predictem.com
The Siena Saints are finding out that you can only be a Cinderella team once.
The Saints pulled off one of the bigger upsets of the NCAA Tournament last season with a win over a highly touted Vanderbilt squad, ruining many (ehhh…mine) brackets out there.
This time, though, the selection committee saw them coming, as the MAAC champs are a No. 9 seed and go up against Big Tens Ohio State on Friday at 9:40 p.m. on CBS.
Most of the time the 8 vs. 9 seed game is a toss up, so the Saints seem to be perking the interest of a lot of bracketeers. But the winner of this game has the daunting task of taking on overall No. 1 seed Louisville (most likely) next round.
Online sportsbooks like the Buckeyes as a 3-point favorite, while the over/under opens at 141.5. Many online bookies have even bumped up the spread to 3.5 in favor of OSU.
The Buckeyes have an impressive 17-11 mark ATS on the season while Siena is under .500 at 14-15-1.
Four out of Seinas top five scorers this season all return from that thrilling upset of Vandy in last years tournament. Senior guard Kenny Hasbrouck and his 14.8 points per game lead the Saints. Hasbrouck also shoots 37% from beyond the arc and averages two steals per contest.
Hes not the only threat OSU will have to worry about. Edwin Ubile puts in 14.6 points a game while Alex Franklin averages 13.6.
Ryan Rossiter is the lone starter that wasnt a huge part of Sienas run last season, but hes been just the opposite this go around for the tiny school of 3,000 students. Rossiter averages an even 10 points per game as the big man on the team. He also grabs 7.8 rebounds, blocks 1.9 shots and shoots an outstanding 63% from the field.
Its hard to leave out the fifth and final starter for Siena, which may be the underappreciated Ronald Moore, who dishes out 6.3 assists per game as the point guard.
As a team, Siena knocks down 77.7 points per game, good enough for 27th in the country. They do let up a lofty 70 points, though.
A lack of depth might hurt Siena if Rossiter or any other start for that matter gets into foul trouble. Their bench scored just 10 points in the MAAC finals win against Niagara.
If Ohio State had its players stay the last few years, wed be talking about a lineup including Greg Oden, Kosta Koufus, Mike Conley Jr. and DaQuan Cook. But, alas, Thad Motta has really just one superstar on his team Evan Turner.
As Turner goes, so do the Buckeyes. He leads the squad in all three major categories, averaging 17.1 points, 7 rebounds and 3.8 assists to go along with 1.8 steals per game.
Backcourt teammate Jon Diebler (11.4 points) can fill it up from three-point land, as he shoots an outstanding 42%, but other than that, OSU struggles to score (66.7 points per game).
They rely on their zone defense to rattle opponents, such is the M.O. for the rest of the Big Ten conference. They give up just 61.6 points per game.
So there it is, if Siena has its regular shooting night against a stingy OSU team, things will look good for the underdogs. The Buckeyes have a hard time keeping up with high scoring teams, as theyve hit the 80 mark just six times this season, and one of those instances was in overtime.
It also will come down to who can control the pace of the game. Sienas fast break, run-and-gun offense has been tough for opponents. In fact, they were in the game late against Pittsburgh earlier in the season before the Panthers pulled away at the end.
Siena doesnt have any eye-popping wins on the year, but have taken on quality opponents, having played well for the most part, like Oklahoma State, Kansas and Tennessee.
With those non-conference games, Siena has done well ATS with a 4-1 mark in their last five match ups outside the MAAC.
However, theyre just 2-5 ATS on a neutral site as a dog.
The Buckeyes play well on neutral sites and are 6-0 ATS in their last six and 12-3 ATS in their last 15 games outside Big Ten play.
Bettors might be interested to know, though, that OSU is just 1-5 ATS when it comes to NCAA tournament games when they are the favorites between .5-6.5 points.
The over is a surprising trend for not only Siena, but OSU as well. The under is 4-0 in Sienas last four games as a dog, while its 6-0 in the Buckeyes last six neutral site games.
Although its on less of a scale, this is a chance for Siena to knock off a supposedly better major conference opponent for the second straight year.
Oracles Pick: Siena is a much more balanced team than OSU. If Turner cant get going, itll be a long day for the Buckeyes. Look for the all-around play of Siena to at least cover the spread and maybe even move on to the second round!