2012 NCAA Tournament
Round of 64 – East Region
Thursday, 3/15/12, 9:50 p.m. Eastern, TV: TNT
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes (27-7, 13-5 Big Ten) vs. #15 Loyola (Maryland) Greyhounds (24-8, 13-5 Metro Atlantic Athletic)
CONSOL Energy Center – Pittsburgh, PA
Opening Line: Ohio State -18
Current Line: Ohio State -17.5
Opening Total: 132
Current Total: 131
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker
The second-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes are the team to beat in the East Region after Syracuse sophomore center Fab Melo was ruled ineligible for the NCAA tournament. The Buckeyes (27-7, 13-5 Big Ten) were also favored to win the East according to some sportsbooks beforehand, but they became bigger favorites with Melo sitting out for the top-seeded Orange. Ohio State will open the Big Dance against the 15th-seeded Loyola (Maryland) Greyhounds (24-8, 13-5 Metro Atlantic Athletic) in the second round on Thursday.
The Buckeyes (-17.5, O/U 131) are coming off a fairly successful run in the Big Ten tournament last week, losing to Michigan State 68-64 in the championship game. Both teams tied with Michigan for the conference’s regular-season title after Ohio State beat the Spartans 72-70 on their home court March 4. Sophomore forward Jared Sullinger stepped up in the conference tourney, averaging 24 points and 8.3 rebounds in three games.
Sullinger’s decision to return for another year of college was a difficult one since he would have likely been a lottery pick in the 2011 NBA draft. But he returned for another shot at the national championship after winning the Big Ten tournament as a freshman. The Buckeyes lost to Kentucky 62-60 last year in the East Region semifinals as the top seed with Sullinger scoring a game-high 21 points and grabbing 16 rebounds.
Loyola has far less experience in games like this than Ohio State, playing only one NCAA tournament game in school history. That came in 1994 and resulted in a loss, but the Greyhounds got into the Big Dance this year the hard way, knocking out No. 4 seed Fairfield 48-44 in the conference title game on March 5 after the Stags upset No. 1 Iona 85-75 in the semifinals a day earlier. Loyola is riding a four-game winning streak both straight-up and against the spread and has seen the UNDER cash in 18 of the team’s 26 games overall.
That is a sharp contrast to Ohio State, which had seen the total go OVER in six straight games before losing to Michigan State. Loyola will try to slow the Buckeyes down after they have averaged more than 75 points in their last five games. The Greyhounds have held their last four opponents to an average of just over 59 points per game. They are 9-4-2 ATS away from home this season and have seen the UNDER go 10-5 under that scenario.