NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Preview - Ohio State vs Tennessee
Friday: 9:37 pm: (6) Tennessee vs. (2) Ohio State
The Volunteers had a bit of a break in reaching the Sweet 16. After dispatching a tough San Diego State squad in the first round, the Vols played the Ohio Bobcats in the second round, cruising to a victory when Bobcat scorers D.J. Cooper and Armon Bassett finally cooled off.
Tennessee is an underdog against Ohio State, and if there is anything that Bruce Pearl has taught us this year, it is that he thrives while coaching an underdog. Ask Kansas and Kentucky - they found out the hard way.
The Vols actually match up really well with Ohio State. Like the Buckeyes, Tennessee has a bunch of kids on its roster that are around 6'6" and play on the perimeter. If you want to beat Ohio State, you have to slow down their star, a kid named Evan Turner. Ever heard of him?
There really should be no discussion as to who the best player in the country is. You don't need pundits to recite the ridiculous numbers he has put up this year. You shouldn't need experts to tell you how much he does for this Ohio State team on a nightly basis, from scoring to rebounding, and from creating shots for teammates to playing defense. What you may not know, however, is that Turner does what every great point does - he makes his teammates so much better.
Jon Diebler can shoot the lights out, but he isn't much more than a typical three-point shooter at this level. William Buford may one day end up on an NBA roster, but he is still a guy that, right now, is at his best coming off of screens, spotting up for jumpers, and using a pump fake to slash to the basket. He's not yet a guy that can consistently create his own shot (think Rip Hamilton). Dallas Lauderdale will block a shot, grab a rebound, and dunk the ball. David Lighty can play in any system, but he is more of a scrappy glue guy than a star; an athlete that happens to play basketball.
Each one of these guys is a solid player. Playing with Turner makes each of them into a legitimate threat offensively.
But as was said earlier, Tennessee is well-equipped to handle Turner. With guys like J.P. Prince and Cam Tatum and Scotty Hopson, the Vols have a number of tall, lanky defenders to throw at him. Slow down Turner, and Tennessee can win this game.