Ohio State, the No. 2 seed in the East Region, will begin NCAA Tournament play against No. 15 seed Loyola (Md.) in a second-round game tonight at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. The game will tip at approximately 9:45 p.m. and will be televised by TNT.
Jared Sullinger in NCAA action last year
The Buckeyes (27-7) will be getting back into action after dropping the championship game of the Big Ten tournament to Michigan State on Sunday (68-64). The Greyhounds (24-8) won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament with a 48-44 win over Fairfield.
The winner will meet the winner of No. 7 seed Gonzaga (25-6) and No. 10 seed West Virginia (19-13). That game will be on Saturday with the time determined late Thursday.
If the Buckeyes can get two wins this weekend, they would advance to the East Regional at Boston March 22-24. There, the Buckeyes could be matched with third-seeded Florida State or sixth-seeded Cincinnati. A regional final match-up with possibly No. 1 seed Syracuse, No. 4 seed Wisconsin or No. 5 seed Vanderbilt would loom after that. The Final Four is set for March 31-April 2 in New Orleans.
Below, we have more on OSU and Loyola as well as on possible Saturday opponents West Virginia and Gonzaga.
Ohio State is among six Big Ten teams in the field of 68. Michigan State is the one seed in the West. Besides Wisconsin, Michigan is the four seed in the Midwest, Indiana is the four seed in the South and Purdue is the 10 seed in the Midwest.
This is OSU’s sixth NCAA trip in seven seasons under Matta. Under Matta, OSU is 10-5 in NCAA Tournament games. Matta guided the 2007 OSU team to the national championship game before it lost to defending national champion Florida. His overall record as a college coach in the NCAA is 16-9.
In 12 years as a college head coach, Matta’s teams are 63-16 all-time in the month of March. That includes a 40-11 mark in eight years at OSU.
That record also includes a 27-6 all-time mark in conference tournaments, including six conference tournament titles in his first 12 years as a head coach. At OSU, his teams have posted a record of 16-5 in the Big Ten tournament.
Adding those conference tournament records with Matta’s NCAA record and his 5-0 mark in leading OSU to an NIT championship in 2008, he is 46-15 all-time in postseason play as a college coach and 31-10 in the postseason at OSU.
Since the NCAA Tournament went to 64 teams in 1985, Ohio State is 12-2 in its tournament opener. The losses were to Utah State in 2001 and Siena in 2009.
No. 2 seeds are usually a lock in their tournament opener. Since 1985, No. 2 seeds are 104-4 against No. 15 seeds in their tournament opener.
Ohio State and Loyola have never met. OSU is 3-3 all-time against current members of the MAAC. That includes 1-1 marks against Iona and Siena, a 1-0 record against Rider and an 0-1 mark against Manhattan.
Video and Quotables
Click here for video of Coach Matta’s press conference from Tuesday.
* Sullinger on what it will take to defeat Loyola – “They're a very athletic basketball team. They like to get up and down the floor. Love transition. A lot of guys can score the basketball for them. I mean, they have five guys averaging double figures so they're a very balanced team. One person is not going to beat us. It's a team effort. We have to stop everybody.”
* Sullinger on how the Buckeyes were ousted last year – “Honestly, I think the person that's the most motivated on this basketball team is sitting to the left to me, Aaron Craft. I know after (Kentucky’s) Brandon Knight hit that shot, he was sleeping at the gym, working every day by himself. His motivation has kind of carried over to everybody else.
“I think this basketball team understood that in practice this morning, that we have to play hard and tomorrow's not a promise.”
* Craft’s take on that motivation – “Yeah, I just think it affected everyone a little differently last year. Everyone kind of took a step back and felt what they could do to make the game change. At the same time I think we did a good job of trying to move on. We can't live in the past. We have to figure out a way to help this basketball team be better because it's not the same as last year.”
* Craft on his rep as a top defender – “Defense is just something I've taken pride in since I've been growing up playing the game. When I got here last year, that was the one thing I knew I needed to do in order to help the basketball team be successful. I had to not turn the ball over and try to play as good of defense as possible. With the guys that were around me, and again this year, the offensive threats we have, the thing that I can bring to the table every game, it's something that I like to take pride in.”
* Sullinger on how OSU is viewed on the national level – “We're still a football school, according to people. We'll live with that. I think this program, ever since Coach Matta came, he changed it around from what it came from. I think you got to give a lot of credit to Coach Matta for his activity and his progression at the Ohio State University.”
* Matta on what Loyola has to offer – “I've become familiar with it a little bit through the tape. I don't know. I've met Jimmy (Pastos), but I don't know him real well. Obviously one of our coaches, Dave Dickerson, they spent a lot of time together at Maryland.
“What I see with Loyola is, number one, a very good basketball team a very sound basketball team, a team that has a lot of guys that can have a big night on you. The only time you have five guys averaging double figures, they have the inside, they have the outside. Their guards do a lot of different things, from shooting threes to driving the basketball.”
* Matta on building the OSU program – “Well, I think I'm very proud of what we've established in eight years at Ohio State. I think from the standpoint, somebody told me the other day, I'm not exactly sure on this, but the highest win total ever at Ohio State was 27 wins. We're averaging 27 wins in eight years. I think from the standpoint of going to the NCAA tournament, we've been a 1 seed twice, we've been a 2 seed three times, then I think an 8 seed.
“From the standpoint of who we've recruited, the type of kid that we've brought in, the character of those kids, how they've represented the program and the university probably most importantly, I'm very excited where we are and the direction we're heading in.”
OSU, Opponent Thumbnails
Ohio State (second seed)
* Location: Columbus
* Nickname: Buckeyes
* Record: 27-7 overall, 13-5 Big Ten (co-champs)
* RPI: 7th
* Sagarin Rating: 2nd
* Best Wins: at Michigan State (3 in RPI), Duke (5), Michigan (14, twice)
* Bad Losses: at Illinois (94 in RPI).
* Last Year Without NCAA Bid: 2008
* Top Players: F Deshaun Thomas, 6-7, so. (15.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg), C Jared Sullinger, 6-9, so. (17.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg), G Aaron Craft, 6-2, so. (8.6 ppg, 4.5 apg), G Lenzelle Smith Jr., 6-4, so. (6.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg), G William Buford, 6-6, sr. (14.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg).
* Also Notable: Ohio State was ranked as high as No. 2 nationally at one point this season. But OSU went through a 2-3 stretch late in the season before critical road wins at Northwestern and Michigan State gave the Buckeyes a share of the Big Ten title … OSU’s youth has shown at times during stretches of inconsistency at both ends of the floor … Buford is now among the top five scorers in school history. He and Thomas have explosive scoring capability, while Craft is the point guard and top defender and Sullinger is an All-American in the paint. When they are clicking, the Buckeyes can be hard to beat.
Loyola (Md.) (15th seed)
* Location: Baltimore
* Nickname: Greyhounds
* Record: 24-8 overall, 13-5 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (second)
* RPI: 78th
* Sagarin Rating: 133rd
* Best Wins: Iona (40 in RPI), at Bucknell (89 in RPI)
* Bad Losses: Rider (201 in RPI), Niagara (202 in RPI), Marist (223 in RPI).
* Last NCAA Appearance: 1994, lost to Arizona in first round.
* Top Players: G Dylon Cormier, 6-2, so. (13.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg), F Erik Etherly, 6-7, jr. (13.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg), G Robert Olson, 6-4, jr. (11.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg), F Shane Walker, 6-10, sr. (9.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg), G R.J. Williams, 5-8, fr. (3.9 ppg, 2.5 apg).
* Also Notable: Loyola finished second behind Iona in the MAAC, but won the conference tournament title and the league’s automatic bid. Iona also got in with an at-large bid … The highlight of the schedule was an 87-63 loss at current top overall seed Kentucky on Dec. 22 … Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos is a former assistant for Gary Williams at Maryland … Sophomore guard Justin Drummond was the MAAC’s sixth man of the year.
* Series With Ohio State: This is OSU’s first meeting with Loyola.
Gonzaga (seventh seed)
* Location: Spokane, Wash.
* Nickname: Bulldogs
* Record: 25-6 overall, 13-3 West Coast Conference (second)
* RPI: 25th
* Sagarin Rating: 30th
* Best Wins: St. Mary’s (28 in RPI), Notre Dame (39 in RPI), at Xavier (41 in RPI).
* Bad Losses: at Illinois (94 in RPI), at San Francisco (136 in RPI).
* Last Year Without NCAA Bid: 1998
* Top Players: G Kevin Pangos, 6-1, fr. (13.4 ppg, 3.4 apg), F Elias Harris, 6-7, jr. (12.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg), C Robert Sacre, 7-0, sr. (11.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg), G Gary Bell, 6-1, fr. (10.2 ppg), F Sam Dower, 6-9, so. (8.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg).
* Also Notable: Gonzaga coach Mark Few and Matta share the distinction as the only coaches nationally to post 20 wins in each of their first 12 years as head coaches. Few has actually done it 13 years in row now at Gonzaga … This is the Zags’ 14th consecutive NCAA trip as they snagged an at-large bid after dropping the West Coast tourney title game to St. Mary’s. Both teams were ranked as the year wore on … Pangos looks like a can’t-miss star as a freshman, while Harris has explosive scoring ability from behind the arc … Gonzaga dropped a 74-67 decision at home to Michigan State on Dec. 10.
* Series With Ohio State: Ohio State and Gonzaga have never met before in men’s college basketball.
West Virginia (10th seed)
* Location: Morgantown, W.Va.
* Nickname: Mountaineers
* Record: 19-13 overall, 9-9 Big East (eighth)
* RPI: 57th
* Sagarin Rating: 38th
* Best Wins: Georgetown (15 in RPI), Cincinnati (42 in RPI), Marshall (43 in RPI), Kansas State (45 in RPI).
* Bad Losses: Pittsburgh (96 in RPI), Kent State (106 in RPI), at St. John’s (159 in RPI).
* Last Year Without NCAA Bid: 2007
* Top Players: F Kevin Jones, 6-8, sr. (20.0 ppg, 11.2 rpg), G Darryl Bryant, 6-2, sr. (17.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg), F Deniz Kilichi, 6-9, jr. (10.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg), G Jabarie Hinds, 5-11, fr. (7.7 ppg, 3.4 apg), F Keaton Mills, 6-6, fr. (1.5 ppg).
* Also Notable: Matta and WVU coach Bob Huggins butted heads for three years during their time as the coaches at Xavier and Cincinnati, respectively. Matta was 2-1 in those match-ups … WVU is two years removed from a Big East tournament title and a run to the 2010 Final Four. Jones and Bryant were among the top four scorers on that team that ended up 31-7 after a national semifinal loss to Duke … Huggins has reloaded around those two with five freshmen who get big minutes … WVU did not look like an NCAA team, sitting at 17-12 after a home loss to Marquette on Feb. 24. But they rebounded with key wins over DePaul and at South Florida to improve their stock just enough. The Mountaineers were knocked out of the Big East tournament in the quarterfinals by UConn (71-67 in overtime).
* Series With Ohio State: OSU is 8-8 all-time against West Virginia. The schools recently played a home-and-home series with WVU winning both on Dec. 27, 2008, in Columbus (76-48) and on Jan. 23, 2010, in Morgantown (71-65).
Ohio State’s NCAA History
Ohio State will make its 28th NCAA Tournament appearance tonight when it faces Loyola (Md.) in Pittsburgh.
The Buckeyes are hoping they can add to the school’s rich and storied NCAA pedigree. That includes the 1960 national championship. That team was led by coach Fred Taylor and a pair of guys who have their uniform numbers retired in the rafters of the Schottenstein Center in Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek.
Officially, four of OSU’s previous NCAA trips have been vacated because of sanctions. Those were the appearances between 1999-2002. That string includes the magical 1999 Final Four run, led by Scoonie Penn and Michael Redd.
Ohio State is 47-26 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including 10 Final Four appearances and the 1960 national championship. OSU’s 1999 Final Four trip was vacated due to NCAA sanctions, but even with that total reduced to nine the school is still sixth among all Division I schools in Final Fours. The Buckeyes trail only North Carolina (18), UCLA (18), Duke (15), Kentucky (14) and Kansas (13).
Would you believe Ohio State played in the very first NCAA championship game 73 years ago next week against Oregon at Northwestern’s Welsh-Ryan Arena? Oregon won that first title game 46-33.
Of course, it was just five years ago when Ohio State reached the Final Four for the 10th time and the national championship game for the fifth time. That team, led by Matta and superstar freshmen Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr., made a magical run to the title game before falling to Florida’s veteran team 84-75.
Last year, the Buckeyes were the No. 1 seed in the East Region. They defeated UT-San Antonio and George Mason in the opening weekend in Cleveland before falling to No. 4 seed Kentucky 62-60 in a regional semifinal in Newark, N.J. UK’s Brandon Knight hit the game-winning 15-foot jumper with five seconds for the Wildcats.
In 2010, OSU was the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region. They got past UC-Santa Barbara and Georgia Tech in the opening weekend games in Milwaukee. But they were upset by No. 6 seed Tennessee 76-73 in a regional semifinal in St. Louis. UT’s Brian Williams had a tip-in in the final minute for the margin of victory, while OSU’s Evan Turner had his last-second three-point attempt blocked.
In 2009, Ohio State dropped a 74-72 double overtime decision to Siena in an eight-nine game in Dayton.
Each year, the NCAA Tournament provides so many great memories. Ohio State hopes to join that fun and earn a chance to face Gonzaga or West Virginia on Sunday.
You look back across OSU’s NCAA history and the period from 1960-62 is still the most remarkable time. This was a period where teams had to win the Big Ten to get into the NCAA. The run that Taylor engineered was truly spectacular. The Buckeyes crushed Cal 75-55 in the 1960 national title game before enduring a pair of bitter defeats at the hands of Cincinnati in the title game the next two years.
In 1968, Dave Sorenson banked in a shot just before the buzzer to help OSU knock off homestanding Kentucky at Lexington’s Memorial Coliseum so the Buckeyes could make an improbable Final Four run.
The first NCAA appearance I can recall as a kid was in 1980. I was 12 years old and I begged my parents so I could stay up and watch Eldon Miller’s best team – led by Kelvin Ransey, Herb Williams and Clark Kellogg – go up against UCLA in a 10 p.m. game from Tucson, Ariz. The Bruins, led by Rod Foster and Kiki Vandeweghe, knocked off OSU 72-68 … and broke a poor young boy’s heart.
I recall Ronnie Stokes gamely trying to keep up with North Carolina’s Michael Jordan in a 64-51 loss to the Tar Heels in the 1983 tournament at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
In 1985, OSU butted heads with a guy named Karl Malone and his Louisiana Tech team. The Mailman and his team rolled to a 79-67 win.
Two years later, first-year OSU coach Gary Williams – yes, the psychotic Gary Williams – guided Dennis Hopson and a bunch of role players to the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes were a nine seed and upset Kentucky, led by Rex Chapman, 91-77 in the first round at the Omni at Atlanta.
Top-seeded Georgetown was next and the Buckeyes took the Hoyas to the wire before falling 82-79. All the talk was on the match-up between Hopson and Reggie Williams, but a guard by the name of Charles Smith stole the show that day for Georgetown.
OSU went to the NCAA in each of Randy Ayers’ first three seasons on the job. In 1990, Alex Davis hit a three to send the opener with Providence to overtime. OSU won that game, but fell to top-seeded (and eventual national champion) UNLV 76-65 at Salt Lake City.
Behind the work of Jimmy Jackson, OSU was a Big Ten champion and No. 1 seed in each of the next two years. In 1991, St. John’s shredded Ayers’ signature press in a lopsided loss in the regional semis at the Pontiac Silverdome. A year later, OSU suffered one of the most bitter defeats in school history as Michigan’s Fab Five defeated OSU 75-71 in double overtime in Lexington, Ky. That defeat denied Jackson a Final Four bid and would be the beginning of the end of the good times for Ayers at Ohio State.
His successor Jim O’Brien had an ace in the hole as he brought point guard extraordinaire Scoonie Penn with him from Boston College. Penn was eligible for the 1998-99 season and, with Redd at his side, they went from 8-22 in O’Brien’s first year to 27-9 in his second. OSU enjoyed a thrilling run through the South Regional with heartstopping wins over No. 1 seed Auburn and St. John’s (led by Ron Artest … er Metta World Peace). The ride ended with a loss to eventual national champion UConn – led by Richard Hamilton -- in the national semis at Tropicana Field.
O’Brien’s next three teams all made the Dance, but had little to show for their trouble.
Matta arrived and his first OSU team was ineligible for the NCAA due to the transgressions of his predecessor.
But this makes six bids in seven years for Matta and the Buckeyes. Six years ago in Dayton, OSU was upset by No. 7-seed Georgetown in the second round.
The Final Four run in 2007 was remarkable. Ron Lewis had to hit a three at the buzzer in regulation to force overtime in what became a 78-71 win over Xavier at Rupp Arena.
The heroics continued at the regional in San Antonio. The Buckeyes rallied from down 20 to beat Tennessee 85-84 and then thumped No. 2-seed Memphis 92-76 to advance to the Final Four.
In the semifinals, OSU avenged the loss to Georgetown with a 67-60 win. OSU was headed to its first national title game in 45 years. But Florida, the defending national champion, was too much and pulled off the nine-point win.
Let’s see what kind of new memories Ohio State can add to this tradition this weekend in Pittsburgh (and maybe next weekend in Boston, and the following weekend at the Final Four in New Orleans).
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