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NCAA Tournament 2010: Bruce Pearl and Tennessee Vols, How Sweet 16 it is

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 20:  Head coach Bruce Pearl of the Tennessee Volunteers instructs his son, Steven Pearl, after he is called for a foul in the first half against the Ohio Bobcats during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament on March 20, 2010 at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
Joel BarkerSenior Writer IMarch 20, 2010

After pounding the NCAA Tournament Cinderella Ohio Bobcats, the Tennessee Vols have advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third time in four years.

Before Bruce Pearl a sentence such as that would have brought a laugh or two.

Since taking over for the incompetent Buzz Peterson after the '04 season, Pearl has led the Vols to the tournament in each of his five seasons on the job.

There is a distinct possibility that the Vols will play Ohio State in this Sweet 16, just as they did in their first under Pearl.

Pearl's first Sweet 16 as the Vols head coach saw him matched up against the Greg Oden-led, and No. 1 seeded, Ohio State. Tennessee actually led by as many as 17, but the Buckeyes, who were ranked No. 1 for much of the regular season, won the game 85-84.

The next season Pearl led his best Tennessee team to date through the first two rounds as a No. 2 seed. Louisville met them in the Sweet 16 and completely outplayed them from the start. The Cardinals won that matchup 79-60.

While a rematch versus Ohio State in the Sweet 16 is a very real possibility, the Buckeyes must take care of business against a hot Georgia Tech team on Sunday.

The Yellow Jackets run to the ACC Tournament Finals is probably the only reason they made the field of 65.

Ohio State, however, has been one of the hotter teams in the country the last two months.

On the strength of having the best player in the nation, Evan Turner, the Buckeyes have only lost twice since the middle of January.

Ohio State is similar to Tennessee in that all but one of each team's losses came on the road.

Tennessee lost an early season game to Purdue on a neutral court, and Ohio State lost to North Carolina on a neutral court. After that, Ohio State and Tennessee lost only one game at home all season.

Tennessee is 27-8, Ohio State is 28-7. Freaky, huh.

Of course, Georgia Tech fans are likely cursing me at this very moment for pretending like their second round matchup with Ohio State is already over with.

The Yellow Jackets are 23-12. As hot as Ohio State has been since mid-January, Georgia Tech has been equally as cold.

In the same time period that the Buckeyes lost two games the Yellow Jackets have lost nine games.

Friday night's first round matchup with Oklahoma State was one of the best games of the tournament so far.

Tech won that one on 24-of-25 from the free-throw line.

Head coach Paul Hewitt is still considered to be on the hot seat. A win over Ohio State would probably save his job, however.

After surprising this writer with their first round win over San Diego State I believe Bruce Pearl and the Vols will be ready for whomever they will eventually have to play in the Sweet 16.

CBS analyst Seth Davis, ESPN college basketball guru Doug Gotlieb and I finally have something in common. 

We'll never count Bruce Pearl out again.

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