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Added March 24th, 2010 by David Glisan

March Madness Betting Free Picks:  Tennessee vs. Ohio State

March Madness action for Friday continues with Tennessee vs. Ohio State.  The Vols finished third in the powerful SEC East behind Kentucky and Vanderbilt and made the NCAA tournament on the basis of their 27-8 overall record.  They did knock off Kentucky at home during the SEC campaign, but sure didn’t help their case when they were humiliated by the Wildcats in the SEC tournament losing by 29 points in a game that wasn’t even *that* close.  The Vols had a tough time in the first round, getting past San Diego State by 3 (it was a pointspread push) and a much easier time with Ohio in their second game.  Ohio State finished second in the Big 10, and dispatched their first two opponents–UC-Santa Barbara and Georgia Tech–with relative ease.

MARCH MADNESS–TENNESSEE VS. OHIO STATE:

As a sports handicapper, you’ll run into games where all of your statistical data, score projections, etc. will suggest a play one way but your intuition and ‘gut’ will suggest the other side.  That is the case here–Tennessee has historically been a team I’d much rather bet against than put my money on.  It seems like the same story every year–they have a talented team full of top notch athletes, but lack that certain something that differentiates a good team from a great team.  Overall, the Vols have a 14-17 ATS record with most of the significant pointspread categories checking in at right around .500.  Going back over the past decade or so, they’ve been a brutal investment on neutral courts where they’re 23-42 against the spread and in tournament play where they’re 17-38 against the number.  Obviously if you’d been putting your money on the Vols in that time frame you’d now be pumping Slurpees at the local 7-11.

Ohio State, meanwhile, was generally a decent pointspread play this season.  The Buckeyes were 18-16 ATS overall and had stellar numbers as a favorite (16-10 ATS) and against teams with winning records (13-6 ATS).  The big issue with Ohio State is their depth and lack of bench productivity.  The Buckeyes bench had a big goose egg–zero points–against Georgia Tech.  Tennessee, conversely, goes ten deep and gets good contributions from their reserves.  Their bench outscored Ohio’s bench in the second round 28-0.  Typically, we like to play on the deeper team and particularly getting a decent amount of points.  But as everything else with this matchup, its not that simple–the Ohio State starting five may be the best in college hoops.  Led by Evan Turner and his 20 points, 9.2 boards and 6 assists per game, four of the five OSU starters average in double digits.  So the question becomes ‘Can UT use their depth to wear down Ohio State’s starting five?’  Not many teams have been able to.

All of the numbers on this game suggest that Tennessee can use their depth and defense to at least keep it close.  Georgia Tech had some success in the second round with their deep bench, and UT is a much better coached and fundamentally sound team.  Ohio State just barely managed to cover the spread as a -7 favorite with the nine point win.  So we’ll make this play with the caveat that I’m very uneasy about taking the points with Tennessee, but that’s what my statistical analysis suggests is the way to play it.

PLAY TENNESSEE +5 OVER OHIO STATE

 
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