2012 NCAA Tournament
Sweet 16– East Region
Thursday, 3/22/12, 9:45 p.m. Eastern, TV: CBS
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes (29-7) vs. #6 Cincinnati Bearcats (26-10)
TD Garden – Boston, MA
Opening Line: Ohio State -7.5
Current Line: Ohio State -7.5
Opening Total: 131
Current Total: 129
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker
The second-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes and sixth-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats lead a record four schools from the same state in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. The Buckeyes (29-7) and Bearcats (26-10) will also have conference bragging rights on the line when they meet on Thursday for a spot in Saturday’s East Regional Final against the Syracuse-Wisconsin winner at Boston’s TD Garden.
Both Ohio State (-7.5, O/U 129) and Cincinnati lost in the title game of their conference tournaments but have rebounded to become two of the most impressive teams in the Big Dance so far. The Buckeyes have won five of six, with their lone loss during that stretch coming against Michigan State 68-64 in the Big Ten tournament championship game on March 11. The Bearcats have been even better lately, winning six of seven straight-up and eight of nine against the spread. They fell to Louisville 50-44 on March 10 in the Big East tournament championship.
Cincy has played a couple close games in the team’s first two rounds, finding different ways to win each time. The Bearcats built a huge early lead against No. 11 Texas before holding on for a 65-59 victory last Friday and then came from behind to beat No. 3 Florida State 62-56 on Sunday. Sophomore guard Sean Kilpatrick led them against the Seminoles with 18 points on 5 of 9 shooting, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Kilpatrick had scored just 13 points combined in the previous two games after scoring 18 in a 71-68 upset of Syracuse in the Big East tourney semifinals.
Ohio State is coming off a gritty 73-66 victory against No. 7 Gonzaga last Saturday after crushing No. 15 Loyola (Maryland) 78-59 in the second round. The Buckeyes got an outstanding performance from sophomore point guard Aaron Craft against the Bulldogs, as he totaled 17 points and 10 assists in 40 minutes while holding Gonzaga counterpart Kevin Pangos to 10 points on 3 of 13 shooting. Pangos, a freshman, was the team’s leading scorer with 13.6 points per game.
The key individual matchup in this game pits Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger against Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates inside. Sullinger had 18 points and four rebounds against the Bulldogs in his last game and will need to control the middle against Gates, who was limited to 10 points and five rebounds in 31 minutes against Florida State due to foul trouble. Gates had 15 points and 10 rebounds against the Longhorns in his previous game, and his ability to battle on the boards could limit offensive opportunities for Buckeye sharpshooters Deshaun Thomas and William Buford. Thomas is averaging nearly 21 points in Ohio State’s last five games.
The OVER is 8-1 in the past nine games for the Buckeyes while the UNDER has cashed in three straight and seven of 10 for the Bearcats. The UNDER is also 13-3 in Ohio State’s last 16 games against Big East opponents.