NCAA Tournament: Ohio State Buckeyes (27-7 SU, 17-17 ATS) vs. UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (20-9 SU, 17-11 ATS), 9:35 p.m. EST, Friday, March 19, 2010, Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisc. TV: CBS
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Ohio State -17/UC Santa Barbara +17
Every day, Evan Turner does something more and more impressive. Nobody thought John Wall wouldn’t be the National Player of the Year early in the season, especially after Turner went down with a back injury, but the things Turner has done all season long have been remarkable. He stepped it up another notch in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament by hitting a 35-foot 3-pointer with a hand in his face at the buzzer to defeat Michigan. The Buckeyes went on to win the Big Ten tournament with a 90-61 win over Minnesota in the championship game, after beating Illinois in double overtime in between. They were that close to losing their first game of the conference tournament but instead they won the title and received a No. 2 seed.
Ohio State is on a six-game winning streak and has won 12 of its last 13 games as well. The only loss in that span was a 60-57 home loss to Purdue before Robbie Hummel went down with a season-ending injury.
The opponent for the Buckeyes will be No. 15 seed UC Santa Barbara, the champion out of the Big West. The Gauchos have faced two other NCAA tournament teams this season, losing 87-66 at California and 69-61 at home to San Diego State. The Gauchos only had two win two games to win the Big West tournament, defeating UC Davis, 76-62, and Long Beach State, 69-64. They have won nine of their last 10 games with their only loss in that stretch being a 60-57 loss at Cal Poly.
UCSB is led by Orlando Johnson, who averages 17.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound sophomore wing, who transferred from Loyola Marymount, is shooting 48 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range. James Nunnally is the only other double-digit scorer for UCSB, averaging 15.0 points, a team-leading 5.7 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game. He is shooting 47 percent from the field and 47 percent from 3-point range. James Powell, who averages 9.4 points per game, is shooting 41 percent on 3-pointers. The Buckeyes do a decent job against the 3-pointer, holding opponents to 34 percent for the season. They will have to really pay attention to Johnson, Nunnally and Powell and limit their 3-pointers if they want to avoid a massive upset.
The key for UCSB is iguring out how to stop Turner and his backcourt mates, William Buford and Jon Diebler. All three of them can and will knock down jumpers from anywhere on the court. The Gauchos have to play solid straight up defense and they can’t leave their man to cover someone else. The moment someone leaves their man, Turner, Buford or Diebler will get open and hit an open jumper or get an open dunk or layup.
The Buckeyes are committing almost five less turnovers per game (about 11 for OSU, 16 for UCSB), but UCSB is forcing more turnovers per game at nearly 16 per game as compared to 14 for Ohio State. Neither team is a great rebounding team. Ohio State is not a very big team in the frontcourt, but Turner picks up some of the rebounding load and Dallas Lauderdale is undersized but can certainly hold his own defensively. The Buckeyes are out-rebounding opponents by three boards per game, which is much better than UCSB’s -3 rebounding differential. UCSB is shooting 38 percent from 3-point range and holding opponents to 30 percent, while Ohio State is shooting 39 percent on 3-pointers and holding opponents to 34 percent. The Buckeyes are shooting 50 percent from the field and holding opponents to 41 percent, while UCSB is shooting 45 percent from the field and holding opponents to 42 percent.
UCSB is 4-0 ATS in its last four games as an underdog, 4-1 ATS in its last five neutral site games, 5-2 ATS in its last seven neutral site games as an underdog, and 10-22-1 ATS in its last 33 games following an ATS win. Ohio State is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games following an ATS win, 3-10 ATS in its last 13 NCAA tournament games, and 2-9 ATS in its last 11 NCAA tournament games as a favorite.
Ryno’s Pick: I like UCSB to stay within the spread and cover.