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Tennessee vs Ohio State

With No. 1 seed Kansas down and out, the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes are the favorites in the Midwest Region. Can they start a run to the Final Four by taking down No. 6 Tennessee in the Sweet 16?

The Ohio State Buckeyes have glided through the tournament with relative ease so far. They opened up with a 68-51 rout of Santa Barbara despite what was considered a slow game from star forward Evan Turner. Jon Diebler led Ohio State with 23 points, while Turner shot only 2-of-13 with nine points and 10 rebounds.

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The real Turner arrived in the second round to lead Ohio State to a 75-66 win over No. 10 seed Georgia Tech as a 6.5-point odds favorite at Bovada. Turner netted 24 points and came close to a triple-double with nine rebounds and nine assists. If that version of Turner shows up throughout the tournament the Buckeyes should be bound for the Final Four at least.

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Standing in their way right now are the Tennessee Volunteers. The Vols didn’t start the tournament off with a bang, as they edged past No. 11 San Diego State 62-59 in their opener. J.P. Prince and Melvin Goins each netted 15 points and the Vols had a solid game from three-point range, hitting 8-of-17 from beyond the arc.

In the second round Tennessee caught a break by getting No. 14 Ohio after the Bobcats shocked No. 3 Georgetown in the opening round. Whatever magic Ohio had they must have used it all up in the opening round because Tennessee throttled them 83-68 as an 8.5-point odds favorite.

Prince led the Vols with 18 points and Tennessee dominated the glass in the win, out-rebounding Ohio 39-28. Wayne Chism and Brian Williams helped lead the way with 12 rebounds apiece. Rebounding could be a big strength for the Vols against a small Buckeyes squad, but they’re still a 4.5-point underdog on the latest Sweet 16 odds.

Ohio State has already surpassed last year’s dismal results in the tournament. In 2009 they were bounced in the first round, which followed an NIT appearance in 2008 and a loss in the tournament final to Florida in 2007.

Tennessee was also a victim of an early exit last year, also getting knocked out in the opening round. Before that they made back-to-back appearances in the Sweet 16 in 2007 and 2008, but failed to advance to the Elite Eight both times.