The Sweet Sixteen: Mitch Picks Ohio State Vs. Tennessee

Mitch WilsonSenior Writer IMarch 25, 2010

MILWAUKEE - MARCH 21:  Dallas Lauderdale #52 and Evan Turner #21 of the Ohio State Buckeyes look on in the second half while taking on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Bradley Center on March 21, 2010 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I'm going to try and get back into the swing of contributing here at B/R, at least a few times a week but we'll see how that goes.

I've been busy over The Sports Chat Place with a redesign and of course redoing the forum as well. Be sure to check out all of my picks that everyone grew accustomed to over my years here at Bleacher and picks they will be seeing here once again in the future.

Here's one for the Sweet Sixteen:

Ohio State and Tennessee kick off Friday's NCAA Tournament action as they play for a spot in the Elite Eight.

Ohio State has been impressive so far in this NCAA Tournament as they have been all season long in winning the Big Ten regular season title and conference tournament.

In round two it looked early on like Georgia Tech may have Ohio State's number but with 24 points from Even Turner, 20 points from Jon Diebler, and 18 points from David Lighty the Buckeyes were eventually able to put away a very game Yellow Jacket team.

The Bucks shot 49 percent from the floor, right in line with the 49.4 percent they averaged this season and scored 75 points which was right in line with the 74.1 points per game they averaged this year.

While OSU played right to their numbers offensively, defensively their numbers moved in the wrong direction. Georgia Tech's 66 points are five more than the 61 the Buckeyes gave up during the year and though the 41.4 percent GT shot from the floor was only slightly better than the 40.8 Ohio State has been allowing this year.

With Kansas gone from this bracket, the No. 2 seed Ohio State now becomes the team to beat.

Tennessee's match up against Georgetown never developed but the Vols are in the Sweet Sixteen for the fourth time in the past five years, no small feat. The Volunteers would have no part of the upset story that was Ohio University as UT sent them home 15 point losers.

Tennessee shot the lights out from the floor at 56.7 percent as 12 players got in on the action. J.P. Prince scored 18 points while Scotty Hopson bounced back from his disappointing first game as he scored 17 points.

There is some reason for concern as Tennessee shot just 55.6 percent from the free throw line, something they are going to need to improve on immediately. The Vols have knocked off the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the country this season they are no stranger to good teams in big games.

For the year Tennessee scored 73.6 points per game and averaged 45.4 percent shooting while allowing 64.9 points per game as they were 15th best in shooting percentage against at 39.3 percent per game. Tennessee has shown they can win against the best and they will need to show that type of game to advance.

Ohio State is 4-1 against the spread as a favorite of up to six and a half points but they are 4-11 against the spread in their last 15 NCAA Tournament games and 1-6 against the spread in their last seven non-conference games.

Tennessee is 4-1-1 against the spread in their last six games against Big Ten teams, 4-0-1 against the spread in their last five non-conference games, and 4-1-1 against the spread when playing a team with a winning record.

This should be a fiercely competitive game and I don't see the Vols backing down one inch. Maybe Ohio State pulls out another miracle but they don't cover this number.

Mitch's Pick: Tennessee + 4 1/2

See all of our Free NCAA Tournament Picks Against The Spread For 3/26/10