Ohio State - Tennessee Preview
Ohio State Buckeyes (1) Vs. Tennessee Volunteers (5)
Thursday, 3/22 @ 9:57
Betting Line From Bookmaker: Ohio State -5
It looked grim for first seed Ohio State—down by 3 with the seconds ticking down. But then Ron Lewis knocked down a 3-pointer with time running out, sending the Buckeyes and the Xavier Musketeers into OT. State’s Mike Conley Jr., a freshman guard, took over in the overtime and the Buckeyes won 78- 71. In their round two game, Tennessee had to turn it on in the second-half to beat Virginia 77- 74. Going into the locker room at the half, the Vols were behind 38- 35.
Ohio State shot 85% (17- 20) from the free throw line, which was much better than Xavier’s 69% (11- 16). And although the Buckeyes performed superiorly on the boards, taking down 42 rebounds to Xavier’s 28, they had a tough time containing the Musketeer’s senior forward Justin Cage. Cage had 25 and that almost did in the number one seed.
Ohio State center Greg Oden, a freshman, was a dynamic force with a double-double—14 points and 12 rebounds. Senior guard Lewis led everyone in scoring with 27 points; he also pulled down 8 rebounds. Conley hit for 21 points, while adding 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
On defense, the cagey Conley had 3 blocked shots and 2 steals. Oden blocked 2 and pulled off 2 swipes. State allowed Xavier 16 foul shots.
Tennessee and Virginia played a back and forth game. With 13 seconds left, the Vols led by one—73- 72. The difference was four free throws made by Chris Lofton and a Tennessee defensive rebound on a last second three-point attempt by the Cav’s Sean Singletary.
Junior guard Lofton led the Vols with 20 points, while JaJuan Smith, another junior guard, threw in 16 points and pulled off 3 steals. Senior point guard Dane Bradshaw dished off 5 assists, while grabbing 3 rebounds and putting in 3 points. Freshman guard Ramar Smith put in 7 points and handled 6 rebounds and freshman forward Wayne Chism was good for 13 points and 5 rebbies. For the Vols, it was a fairly balanced effort with some important contributions off the bench.
With 16 turnovers, 25 fouls and no blocked shots, Tennessee gave Virginia too many opportunities. They can’t survive against State if they do that.
Ohio State has a great starting five, offering maturity and talent. Tennessee possesses some fine, young talent and a solid bench, but they are prone to mistakes. If there’s going to be an upset in this round a fifth seed/first seed match-up could provide it.