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Ohio State defeats Iona, team to beat in the West Region?

Mar 22, 2013, 10:36 PM EDT

Iona v Ohio State Getty Images

Iona was up 6-5 three minutes into its second round game against Ohio State on Friday night. The Buckeyes quickly put to rest any chance they would join Georgetown, Missouri and Duke as No. 2 seeds that got bounced by No. 15 seeds in the past two NCAA tournaments.

Ohio State went on a 15-0 run, counted Iona cutting the lead to four late in the first half and then held a double-digit lead throughout the second half en route to a 95-70 win. Deshaun Thomas scored a game-high 24 points, Sam Thompson shot 6-of-10 from the field for 20 points and 10 rebounds and although Aaron Craft was held to four points, he had seven assists and six of the team’s eight steals. The Buckeyes also held Momo Jones, who averages 23 points per game, to nine — only the second time all season he was held to single digits.

Ohio State advances to the third round to play the winner of Iowa State or Notre Dame in the mess that has become the West Region. Harvard beat No. 3 New Mexico Friday night and the No. 14 Crimson isn’t the only double-digit seed to advance in the West. Marshall Henderson and No. 12 Ole Miss will play No. 13 La Salle in the third round. Oh yeah, and top-seeded Gonzaga beat Southern by six.

The Big Ten champs might be the team to beat out West, despite No. 1 Gonzaga still alive. The Buckeyes had a lot of momentum entering the tournament, winning eight straight with four of those against ranked opponents, including at Indiana. Ohio State is getting into rhythm at the right time, and as the round of 64 is trimmed to 32, the Buckeyes look like a team poised to return to the Final Four.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

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