Preview: #6 Tennessee vs. #2 Ohio State

By Corey Carpenter on March 26, 2010 at 7:50a
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The Villian has to be cool, calm and get his.Just take care of the rock tonight.
Ohio State Buckeyes #5 Ohio State 29-7, 14-4 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 7:00 PM ET - CBS —— Edward Jones Arena St. Louis, MO Tennessee Volunteers #15 Tennessee 27-8, 11-5 SEC Roster | Schedule

The Buckeyes and Volunteers have battled 3 times in the last 4 years, with the games being decided by a total of 8 points. Tennessee has never made it past the Sweet 16 and the Bucks are looking for their second Elite 8 appearance in the last 4 years.

The Vols have won their first 2 games by an average of 9 points, dispatching of San Diego St. by 3 and spoiling the Groce/Matta reunion, by beating Ohio U. 83-68. UT has an RPI ranking of 10, with wins over Kentucky (but lost to the 'Cats by 30 two weeks ago) and Kansas, but they went 3-5 overall against the top 25 and 4-6 against the RPI top 50.

Meanwhile, OSU has won 18 of their last 20 and won the first 2 tourney games by an average of 13 points. The Buckeyes are 8-3 in the tournament under Thad Matta and they're favored by 4.5 tonight. With Syracuse losing, this veteran group knows they are the co-highest seed remaining on the left side of the bracket and have a legit chance to make a run to the title game.

#NamePTSREBASSTPOS#NamePTSREBASST
21 Evan Turner 20.0 9.2 6.0 G 3 Bobby Maze 9.4 2.5 3.2
33 John Diebler 13.3 2.8 1.5 G 30 J.P. Prince 9.7 3.8 2.9
44 William Buford 14.4 5.7 3.1 F 32 Scotty Hopson 12.5 3.3 1.3
23 David Lighty 12.8 4.6 2.9 F 4 Wayne Chism 12.3 7.2 1.1
52 Dallas Lauderdale 6.6 5.2 0.2 C 33 Brian Williams 5.2 6.0 0.7

Opponent

Tennessee scores 73.6 points a game on 45.4 percent shooting overall and 31.8 from deep. Opponents score 65 a game on 39.3 percent shooting against the Vols, including a stingy 29.3 from beyond the arc. Alex broke down the "Pearl Press" yesterday, and how OSU can beat it, because UT forces 16.5 TO's a game, on the help of 8 swipes.

Bruce Pearl will keep the scorer's table busy, running about 9 guys in and out, to keep the defensive pressure on the Bucks. The subs will be lead by Cameron Tatum, a sophomore guard that plays about 17 minutes and drops in 7.3 points a game. Pearl does use a guard heavy offense, similar to Ohio State, but they snag 11.7 offensive boards a game and OSU gave up 12 each in their first 2 rounds.

Buckeye Breakdown:

Hopefully OSU learned a lesson in the first half against G.Tech, take care of the rock. Tennessee is similar to the Jackets in terms of the helter skelter style of play, which can lead to quick bad shots and more TO's against Ohio State's pressure defense. The Bucks 18 TO's against GT was their most in regulation since the loss at Minnesota January 9. If they can limit TO's tonight, they should win this game.

A key for tonight will be emotions. The nerves will be there early and so will the Vols defense. In the couple of games I saw last night, the refs were letting them play, so if that holds true tonight and the Bucks get shoved around a bit, they can't get frustrated and let it get into their heads. You keep your heads tonight, you win the game.

I don't know what it is about this game that doesn't make me nervous. There is a quiet calm about that knows Ohio State doesn't have the rebounding woes as in the past couple of seasons, they can shoot the ball well, they hold opponents to 40.8 percent shooting and they are a veteran team with the best player in the country. Don't get me wrong, I know Tennessee is a very good team, but they don't shoot well from outside and rely on their defense for transition points. OSU averaged 11 turnovers on the season and can shoot from outside, thanks to Dieb's 11 of 22 thus far in the tourney.

The Buckeyes are playing their best ball in March, as have all of Thad Matta's teams. He is now 31-8 in the month of March at OSU and there is no reason to believe he won't continue that trend tonight. As Jason told you earlier in the week, my ride here at 11W goes a long as the Bucks do in the tournament and I'm not ready to quit yet, so the Bucks go on for the hard fought 68-66 win tonight and move on to face the winner of UNI or a Kalin Lucas, Chris Allen-less MSU.

Etc

  • David Lighty became the 3rd player on this squad to eclipse the 1,000 point club against GT.
  • With three 3-point attempts, Jon Diebler will set the single season mark with 272, breaking Jamar Butler's mark.
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