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Ohio vs Tennessee - NCAA Tournament Preview
#14 Ohio vs. #6 Tennessee, Saturday, 3:35 PM
Ohio beat Georgetown…yes, you’re still reading that right. Now, the Bobcats move onto their first second round NCAA Tournament game since 1983 and another tall task. This time it will be the 6-seed Tennessee Volunteers, who beat 11-seed San Diego State 62-59 in the first round.
They played each other on the gridiron in the fall; now it will be MAC vs. SEC on the hardwood for a shot at the Sweet Sixteen.
Record: 25-8 overall, 11-5 SEC
Players to Watch
Wayne Chism, 6-9, F/C: 12.4 PPG, 7 RPG, 1.4 BPG
Scotty Hopson, 6-7, G: 12.4 PPG, 1.3 APG
J.P. Prince, 6-7, G: 9.4 PPG, 2.9 APG, 1.6 SPG
Keys to the Game
1. The Bassett/Cooper Combo
Ohio’s guard duo has left its last two opponents asking, how do we stop them? They combined for 48 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, a steal and a block against Akron, then 55 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and three steals to beat the Hoyas. Bassett and Cooper became the story of the Georgetown game and if the same happens Saturday, Tennessee will be in trouble.
2. Consistency and Momentum
All year, Tennessee has been an up-and-down team. The Volunteers beat number 1 seeds Kansas and Kentucky in Knoxville. But they also lost to an average USC team, 14-17 Georgia and were absolutely waxed by Kentucky a week ago in the SEC Tournament. As with Georgetown, you never really know which Tennessee squad will show up. Ohio was the same way throughout the regular season but has been consistently good in the postseason, riding a wave of momentum.
3. Ball Control
Tennessee’s senior point guard Bobby Maze has experience and a high assist/turnover ratio. However, on the whole, the Vols are a turnover-prone bunch. Their 13.2 turnovers per game leave them 133rd in the nation in that category. The Bobcats forced 18 turnovers against the similarly turnover-prone Hoyas. Creating turnovers and getting transition points off of them will be key for Ohio.
4. Prince of Providence?
J.P. Prince is probably the toughest matchup for Ohio. The 6-7 senior is exactly the kind of player the Bobcats have struggled with time and time again. He is a good shooter at 51% from the field, as well as a solid rebounder and passer. Tommy Freeman does not matchup well, which could mean more minutes for Asown Sayles. Prince, along with Tennessee’s other guard with size Scotty Hopson, will be important determining factors in the result.
The Final Word
Both Ohio and Tennessee have encountered and overcome a good deal of adversity. Tennessee has had numerous suspensions and the dismissal of one of its best players, Tyler Smith. Ohio has also had to deal with discipline issues on top of injuries. But both have made it past that and are in the round of 32.
Once again, this game should not be discounted just because it contains the 14-seed Ohio. It will be very interesting and a typical Ohio down-to-the-wire game. The Bobcats shot fifteen percent better from the field against Georgetown than their season average. It is hard to expect that level above average proficiency again. That said Ohio has defied a lot of odds through this run. Ultimately, I think this comes down to Bassett/Cooper vs. Prince/Hopson. While DeVaughn Washington and Wayne Chism will be involved, the guards will decide who will be Sweet 16 bound.
Ohio will be in this game the whole way and if the Bobcats are hitting over 50% from the field again, I think they win. However, a 14-seed in the final sixteen is rare and I don’t see the Bobcats shooting well enough against the Tennessee defense to win a close one.
Prediction: Tennessee 78, Ohio 74
By Connor Kiesel