Ohio State Buckeyes (29-7 SU, 18-18 ATS) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (27-8 SU, 14-16-2 ATS), 7:07 p.m. EST, Friday, March 26, 2010, Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, Mo. TV: CBS
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Ohio State -4.5/Tennessee +4.5
Evan Turner has been carrying the Ohio State Buckeyes all season long. They won their first round NCAA tournament game over UCSB, but Turner shot just 2-for-13 from the field and scored nine points. He did have 10 rebounds and five assists, but it was one of his worst offensive performances in a while. Of course, he bounced back in the second round in a win over Georgia Tech with a terrific performance. He had 24 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, including 16 points in the first half. Turner did commit nine turnovers as well, something he will need to clean up if the Buckeyes are going to beat Tennessee in the Sweet 16 on Friday.
The Buckeyes haven’t been tremendous in either game in the NCAA tournament thus far, but they have been good enough to get by. In the 75-66 win over Georgia Tech, Jon Diebler contributed 20 points and David Lighty scored 18 points. The Buckeyes shot 49 percent from the field and 8-for-21 on 3-pointers. They were outrebounded by three and committed 18 turnovers, but they also forced 21 turnovers. Georgia Tech shot 41 percent from the field and 4-for-20 on 3-pointers.
Tennessee has two incredible wins this season that have defined the Vols’ season thus far. At home, they defeated both Kansas and Kentucky. Other than that, they haven’t had many great wins this season. But those two signature victories and an 11-5 record in the SEC were good enough to get them a No. 6 seed. In the first round of the NCAA tournament, they barely hung on for a 62-59 victory over No. 11 seed San Diego State. In the second round, they got lucky by facing No. 14 seed Ohio, which upset No. 3 Georgetown in the first round.
In the 83-68 victory over Ohio in the second round, the Vols shot 57 percent from the field and 5-for-14 on 3-pointers. They outrebounded Ohio by 11 and held the Bobcats to 38 percent shooting from the field and 10-for-26 on 3-pointers. J.P. Prince led the Vols with 18 points and Scotty Hopson scored 17 points. Wayne Chism and Brian Williams each grabbed 12 rebounds.
Ohio State takes good care of the ball, while Tennessee likes to trap and force a lot of turnovers, so it should be an interesting matchup. The Buckeyes are averaging about 11 turnovers per game and forcing 14 of them, while Tennessee is committing 13 turnovers per game and forcing almost 17 of them per game this season. Neither team is a great rebounding team because both teams lack size and depth in the frontcourt. Ohio State is outrebounding opponents by two boards per game, while Tennessee has about one rebound more than its opponents per game. The Buckeyes are shooting 39 percent from 3-point range and holding opponents to 34 percent, while the Vols are shooting 32 percent on 3-pointers and holding opponents to 29 percent. Tennessee is shooting 45 percent from the field and holding opponents to 39 percent, while Ohio State is shooting 49 percent from the field and holding opponents to 41 percent.
Ohio State is a very experienced team, averaging 2.44 years of experience per minute played. Tennessee isn’t too far behind at an average of 2.09 years of experience per minute played. Both teams have 10 road/neutral wins this season.
Both of these teams can catch fire from 3-point range. For Ohio State, Buford, Diebler and Turner can all knock down some outside shots, especially Buford and Diebler. For Tennessee, Hopson, Maze, Tatum and Chism can all shoot the ball well from beyond the arc. Neither team has much of an advantage down low, so most of the game will be played on the perimeter. If the Buckeyes can defend the penetration and 3-point shooting well, they should be able to win the game rather easily. The Vols will not only have to stop OSU’s outside shooting but also stop Turner, which is no easy task at all.
Tennessee is 4-1-1 ATS in its last six games against the Big Ten, 7-19-1 ATS in its last 27 games following an ATS win, and 0-3-1 ATS in its last four neutral site games as an underdog. Ohio State is 4-11 ATS in its last 15 NCAA tournament games, 3-10 ATS in its last 13 NCAA tournament games as a favorite, and 1-4 ATS in its last five games following an ATS win.
Ryno’s Pick: Tennessee is playing some good ball right now. This should be a tight game with the Vols covering and potentially winning straight up.