George Mason awaits Ohio State Buckeyes in NCAA odds clash

By: David Schwab | Saturday, March 19, 2011

The No.9 seed George Mason Patriots will try and make another improbable run in a NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament when they take on the No.1 seed Ohio State Buckeyes in Sunday’s third round of the East Region.

Tip-off from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland is set for 2:15 p.m. (PT) and the game will be broadcast nationally on CBS. Ohio State opened as a 10 ½-point favorite and the ‘over/under’ line is set at 135 ½.

George Mason made it into this tournament with an at-large bid out of the Colonial Athletic Association after compiling an overall record of 26-6 straight-up (23-8 against the spread). The Patriots proved they belonged in the tournament with a dramatic 61-57 come-from-behind victory over No.8 seed Villanova as a two-point underdog in Thursday’s second round.

If George Mason is to have any chance against the Buckeyes, it will need another huge effort from sophomore forward Luke Hancock. Not only did he hit a crucial three-point shot with 21 seconds left to put the Patriots up for good against the Wildcats, he led the team in scoring with 18 points.

They will also need a better performance from senior guard Cam Long, who was held to seven points in Thursday’s game. He is the team’s leading scorer with an average of 15.3 points a game.

George Mason shot just 40.4 percent from the field against Villanova, well under its 47.2 percent season average. It also struggled from three-point range, hitting just 28.6 percent of its attempts after averaging 39.4 percent from beyond the arc in the regular season.

Ohio State earned the No.1 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament after rolling through the regular season with an overall record of 32-2 SU (17-15 ATS) which included a 71-60 victory over Penn State as a 10-point favorite in the Big Ten Tournament Championship. The Buckeyes' second round game against No.16 seed UT-San Antonio amounted to nothing more than a brisk workout in a lopsided 75-46 win as a 24 ½-point favorite.

Much of Ohio State’s success this season can be attributed to the play of freshman phenom Jared Sullinger, who is averaging a team-high 17 points and 10.1 rebounds a game. It also has a solid supporting cast with players like junior guard William Buford, the second leading scorer with 14.5 points, and senior guard-forward David Lighty who is averaging 11.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and a team-high 3.3 assists per game.

The Buckeyes have the third-best shooting percentage in the nation (49.4 percent) and are averaging 77 points a game. They shot 55.8 percent from the field in Thursday’s game and hit a deadly 50 percent from three-point range. The one area where Ohio State has struggled a bit this year is under the boards, where it has averaged just 34.5 rebounds a game.

George Mason is 3-1 ATS in its last four games on the road but is just 2-3 ATS in its last five games overall. The total has stayed ‘under’ in four of its last five games.

Ohio State is 3-3 ATS in its last six road games and 6-2 ATS in its last eight games overall. The total has gone ‘over’ in six of its last nine games.

The Patriots bring a ton of guts and determination into this game against a Buckeyes’ team that is loaded with depth and talent. George Mason should be able keep this game competitive deep into the second half, but stick with Ohio State to pull away in the end to win and cover the 10 ½-points.

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