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NCAA Bracket 2012: Ohio State's Path To The Sweet 16

It wasn't quite as effortless as last season, but the No. 2 seed Ohio State Buckeyes are once again in the Sweet 16. It's their third straight trip to the regional semifinals and fourth in six years.

In 2011 the Buckeyes trounced each of their first two Tournament opponents -- Texas-San Antonio by 29 and then George Mason by 32. OSU will be more battle-tested this time around.

OK, the Loyola (Maryland) Greyhounds didn't put up much resistance. The Buckeyes led by 11 at halftime and cruised to a 78-59 win.

But the second game, versus Gonzaga, was competitive throughout. OSU led by just two at halftime, and the Bulldogs would force a 61-61 tie with four minutes to play. The Buckeyes buckled down, though, and held on for the 73-66 win.

Ohio State's balance has been the story more than any one outbreak performer. Against Gonzaga, OSU had four players -- Deshaun Thomas, Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft and William Buford -- who scored between 18 and 13. Kraft had 10 dimes against the Bulldogs, more than double his season average of 4.7.

Next up is an in-state showdown with Cincinnati.

For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, stay with SB Nation's Selection Sunday StoryStream, and stick around SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on who was snubbed, who got the best bracket, and who will make it all the way to New Orleans and the Final Four.

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Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.