It's a One-Game Season for Ohio State

By Kyle Rowland on March 16, 2014 at 9:36p
29 Comments

The scene was much different. Instead of cradling a championship trophy with stray pieces of net and confetti sitting nearby, Ohio State sat anxiously awaiting their NCAA Tournament fate inside a palatial lounge usually reserved for deep-pocketed boosters.

For the first time in six years, the Buckeyes weren’t in Indianapolis or Chicago for the selection show. Not after coming up small in crucial moments against Michigan in Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal loss. So they huddled in Columbus and learned they’d go from archrival to in-state foe.

Ohio State, a No. 6 seed in the South Region, will play No. 11 seed Dayton at Buffalo’s First Niagara Center in the opening round on Thursday. If the Buckeyes win, they’ll play the winner of No. 3 seed Syracuse and No. 14 seed Western Michigan on Saturday.

“There won’t need to be a wakeup call, there won’t need to be a ‘who is this, who are they?’” head coach Thad Matta said.

The journey to March has been a turbulent ride for the Buckeyes (25-9). There have been 127 days and 34 games. Highs and lows number in the dozens with a season-long progression mimicking an electrocardiogram.

Ohio State’s road to the Final Four begins in Buffalo – and there will be familiar faces across the court. The Flyers (23-10) are coached by former Ohio State assistant Archie Miller and their top offensive player is Ohio State transfer Jordan Sibert.

Miller spent two seasons at Ohio State, from 2007 to 2008, before joining his brother, Sean, at Arizona. Sibert was a part of the heralded 2010 recruiting classes that included Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith Jr. and J.D. Weatherspoon. He averaged 2.5 points in 49 games.

At Dayton, Sibert’s career has experienced a rebirth. He’s started 31 of 33 games this season and is averaging a team-high 12.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Sibert is shooting a robust 46 percent from the field and 44 percent from three.

“He’s having a great career there,” Matta said. “I’m one of those guys that believes, hey, as long as everyone is happy in where they are and what they’re doing, I’m happy for them.”

Might Sibert be excited to play against his former coaches and teammates?

“Absolutely,” Smith said, emphatically. “But at the same time, we’re in the same boat: you lose, you go home. I think we’re going to be playing jacked up for the same purpose.”

Potential regional semifinal matchups at FexEx Forum in Memphis include No. 2 seed Kansas, No. 7 New Mexico, No. 10 Stanford and No. 15 Eastern Kentucky. The regional final opponent could be No. 1 overall seed Florida, No. 4 UCLA, No. 5 VCU, No. 8 Colorado, No. 9 Pitt, No. 12 Stephen F. Austin, No. 13 Tulsa or 16 seeds Albany and Mt. St. Mary’s.

But the Buckeyes first turn their attention to Dayton. For years, the city located an hour west of Columbus has been on the mind of Ohio State because of its arena. Now it’s because of the basketball-mad city’s favorite team.

Dayton has wins against four tournament teams – Gonzaga, Saint Louis. UMass, George Washington.

“I’m excited for this team and the opportunity to play again,” Matta said. “We’re a better basketball team than when we left Columbus for Indianapolis. No matter who you play in the NCAA Tournament, it’s going to be a really good basketball team. The fact that we’re playing a team from an hour away is irrelevant to me.”

Ohio State and Dayton have played six times with the Buckeyes holding a 4-2 advantage in the series. The last meeting came in the 2008 NIT Quarterfinals, when Ohio State topped the Flyers at Value City Arena.

For years, Matta has tortured Dayton, owning an 8-1 record against the Flyers. But past history isn’t on his mind. The vibe from Matta and Ohio State’s players remained the same as last week – the one-and-done nature of college basketball reigns supreme.

That means heightened pressure and intensity. The brand of basketball that rules March is consistent and high level – there are no kinks or defects.

Said junior forward Sam Thompson: “If we get into one of those funks that we got in a few times this season, our season will be over." 

29 Comments

Comments

Buckeye Chuck's picture

The game is at 12:15. Lunch by the TV!

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

+2 HS
mrspray's picture

Is there any good footage of Dayton from this year?

daytonbuckeye1983's picture

If you want to see Dayton at their best, watch the Maui Invite or first half from the A10 tourney game vs Fordham. To see how OSU can attack UD, watch VCU (length) or St Joes (inside outside combo, own us in general). Devin Oliver (#5) is the engine for UD.When he plays well (shows up all over the stat sheet), the Flyers are a handful.

Buckeyefan774's picture

First time commenter here,

We can't afford to get out to our slow starts, but if we play with the fire and intensity we had in the Big Ten tournament I love our chances of making a nice run in the big dance.

+15 HS
ScarletGray43157's picture

An upvote for the first-timer.  Welcome!

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

+4 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

I second that.................Neophite

Buckeyefan774's picture

Appreciate it fellas!!

+1 HS
Knarcisi's picture

Damn, I'd take a guy on our team hitting 44% from 3. Oh, wait ...

+1 HS
Ohio1St81's picture

I was a sophomore at that NIT game - it was one of the most exciting basketball games I ever attended. 

+1 HS
DLJad's picture

If we play great D v the Flyers, bad offense will not matter. However, that formula against 'Cuse will likely not yield a Sweet 16 trip for the good guys.

Blackbeards Delight's picture

Gentlemen, lets see how playing with a lead woks out, as opposed to the epic comeback strategy.

Crunchy Peanut Butter Bitches.

- Me

 

+1 HS
chowoon97's picture

Survive and Advance. No better motto for NCAA tourney.

jumbo_shells83's picture

Anyone at that OSU vs UD NIT game will remember it forever. That place was absolutely crazy. Freakin awesome experience.

Is it me, or did the end of the article note a 4-2 record, then come back with an 8-1 record? Did I miss something?

We absolutely have the horses to beat these fools. I also believe we may have discovered a small confidence in the BIG tourney. I want to be optimistic, but this year's team is questionable. Just go do work Bucks, that's all I ask. Oh, and Amir, time to grow up.....

The American people sleep peacefully at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

Mr. Slick's picture

I believe OSU is 4-2 while Thad is 8-1 (he coached other places before coming here).

jumbo_shells83's picture

........yep, got it. That makes sense. Thanks Slick.

The American people sleep peacefully at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

Adam21's picture

Is it me, or did the end of the article note a 4-2 record, then come back with an 8-1 record? Did I miss something?

Ohio State has a 4-2 record against UD. Thad Matta has a 8-1 record against UD.

 

edit: Sorry for repeating people. I guess I shouldn't leave a page up, wait a half an hour, then read and comment...

UrbanPirate's picture

Classic conflict. 

Just... Go Bucks.

    

TheShookster's picture

A lot of experts are picking UD to upset the Buckeyes, and I'm fine with that opinion as long as your statement does not involve the words "chip on their shoulder" or "motivated" or "little brother vs. big brother." What's that? You now have nothing to say? Cool.

jumbo_shells83's picture

Are you aiming at me/others Shook, or did I just not see your sarcasm font?

The American people sleep peacefully at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

TheShookster's picture

Haha I wasn't aiming at anyone on this website, just at the experts on the big sports websites. Sorry if you and others got caught in the crossfire that definitely wasn't my intent. I should have thought before I said anything.

OldColumbusTown's picture

Dayton has beaten 4 tournament teams, but I'll go ahead and say the wins they were "known for" earlier in the season are now not quite such good wins.  Gonzaga is not the same team as the past few years.  St. Louis has shown severe deficiencies here at the end of the season, and UMass and GW are good but definitely not anything more than good teams.

This could be a good start for OSU - Dayton is not a very efficient team defensively, so if OSU can start to develop some confidence offensively, hopefully they can get things moving in the right direction and start off on the right foot in the dance on that end of the court.  Confidence is a must, especially for the "shooters" (losing that term loosely) on this OSU team.

Barnsey69's picture

Love the match-up, win-win for Ohio. I think they should play every year (and UC), Flyers arena is Olde Skool fresh love that place...and they serve beer.

I am a modern-art masterpiece.

Dillon G's picture

Who remembers tOSU losing to Dayton in the early 80's? The three point shot might have been adopted that year. Dayton gave Oklahoma and Tisdale all they could handle in the NCAA tournament.

+1 HS
ghalephoto's picture

Roosevelt Chapman, he was the man for Dayton...and as I recall Dayton defeated Oklahoma that game.  Lets hope Dayton keeps its great memory in the past.  Then we can create another epic win vs. Syracuse!!

DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

Bold preditction: Western Michigan beats Syracuse. The 3/14 matchup has given us some great upsets in recent history, and Cuse enters this game playing about as poorly as it has all year.. Broncos over Cuse!

 If the Buckeyes get past UD, they should have a much easier matchup for yet another trip to the sweet 16, where they will get a chance at revenge against Kansas.

Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.
"How firm thy friendship....O-HI-O"

RedStorm45's picture

Can we get an All-Ohio tourney early in the year?  OSU, Xavier, Dayton, UC, OU, Kent State, Toledo, Akron (fill in Cleveland State or Wright State if you want, I don't care).  Play an 8 team tourney.  Battle for Ohio.

rhutchjr's picture

I am as big a Buckeye fan as most. I expect to win against Dayton (I hope) but I keep getting "blasted" by the inconsistency of this years hoopsters so no more predictions. I WILL be yelling and screaming for more wins but it is up to the boys to keep the "good" consistency throughout the tournament. GO BUCKEYES!!

Toledo, a good place to be FROM

Firedup's picture

Just going to leave this right here, saying there is a chance 

http://www.ncaa.com/march-madness/bracket-tactics

 

"Making the Great State of Ohio Proud!" UFM