TheDagger previews each of the Sweet 16 matchups. Here's our look at Tennessee-Ohio State.
No. 2 Ohio State (29-7) vs. No. 6 Tennessee (27-8)
Friday, 7:07 p.m. EDT, Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis, MO)
How they got here:
Ohio State: d. No. 15 UC-Santa Barbara, 68-51; d. No. 10 Georgia Tech, 75-66.
Tennessee: d. No. 11 San Diego State, 62-59; d. No. 14 Ohio, 83-68.
Last Sweet 16 appearances:
Ohio State: 2007 (d. Tennessee and Memphis to advance to Final Four)
Tennessee: 2008 (lost to Louisville in regional semis, 79-60)
Match-up to watch: Ohio State G Evan Turner vs. Tennessee F Scotty Hopson
Turner is a fun watch regardless of who is playing him, but Hopson has the lateral movement to at least challenge the most dymamic player in the nation. Hopson is a terrible free throw shooter but shoots nearly 52 percent from the field. Will Turner and the Ohio State defense insist he drive to the lane and challenge Dallas Lauderdale and Co.? Expect Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl to throw a lot at Turner, but that's done little all season long. Pearl has done wonders on really good players in the past, but Turner's more complete than any of those who came before him and were schemed against, like Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and Sherron Collins.
The Volunteers, arguably, had an easier road here than Ohio State. Tennessee will likely press Ohio State until the Volunteers realize that's going to do more harm than good. UT's biggest problem in the tournament in recent years has been shifting away from its bad tendencies. Pearl isn't considered a terrific late-game coach, but we'd be remiss if we neglected that Ohio State's Thad Matta, while a ridiculous recruiter, also isn't known for his X/O work. Certainly going to be a players' game, and Ohio State's got the better players. Volunteers could shoot themselves right out of this thing if they're not careful.
Prediction: If you don't stop Evan Turner from accruing his typical near-triple-double then it's going to be very problematic. The pick: Ohio State 77, Tennessee 69.
- Ohio State