I cannot wait to see it. I cannot wait till we see Ohio State and superstar freak-athlete Evan Turner walk out on the court and get prepared to once again lead his team to another victory in the NCAA tournament.
Do I believe that the Buckeyes will come out with the victory when they take the court against Tennessee? You bet. Do I think it will be easy? Thats a little different.
Maybe it is my home-state bias, or maybe it is because I have followed him since day one of his collegiate career, but the most important player in this basketball game is NOT Turner. It is Tennessee's 6-7 swingman Scotty Hopson.
Hopson, who only averages 12.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game, is by far the most talented athlete and basketball player on the Volunteer's team. He has an excellent jump shot that has shown up in clutch situations (see Tennessee vs. Kentucky game in Knoxville).
The Vols and Buckeyes matchup fairly well. Wayne Chism is the most talented big man in this game and, in my opinion, is a close second as the most talented player on UT's team.
Bobby Maze and Melvin Goins are two solid guards who are not new to big situations. They also matchup well with David Lighty and Jon Diebler. Where the Vols have the advantage is their speed. Maze, Goins, and Hopson will all be able to stick with Diebler and keep him from open looks.
Then we have Evan Turner. You know. That one guy who wears number 21? That one guy who destroyed his back on an attempted dunk in a meaningless game? That one guy that played middle school ball with Iman Shumpert of Georgia Tech and high school ball with Demetri Mccamey? Or maybe you know him as this, that one guy who many believe (myself included) is the best player in college basketball.
Many people say that he can't be stopped, and that is where we get to Hopson. In a one-on-one match, I'm sure that even Hopson would take Turner to win. Yet, the guy that is most important to his team is not Turner.
In "big" games this season, Hopson has averaged 14 points a game. More than anyone on his team. Hopson's athleticism is a factor that hurts any team. Hopson also has the acute ability of driving to rim and drawing fouls, fouls that could severely hurt Ohio State, who is not a deep team.
One thing that Hopson is good at is his defense. Causing problems for people with his length and his quickness. One thing Turner is good at is turning the ball over. In fact, in the 30 games that Turner has played in this season, he has turned the ball over 5+ times in a game eleven times. Eleven.
Hopson has the ability to annoy Turner. The question is, which Hopson will show up? Will it be the Scotty Hopson that poured in 17 points vs. Kansas while playing excellent defense on Xavier Henry? Or will it be the Scotty Hopson that only scored 20 points in three games during the SEC tournament?
My pick is Ohio State winning this game 77-69. But, I do see a fantastic matchup between Turner and Hopson, and if Hopson wins the battle, he may even lead his team to winning the war.
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