Wish Granted: Dream Matchup for Jordan Sibert

By Kyle Rowland on March 18, 2014 at 9:15a

The smile on Jordan Sibert’s face said it all. Joy, elation, maybe even shock. The NCAA Tournament is built on memories, and he’s already got one that will last a lifetime.

It also was a smiley face he texted former teammate and close friend Sam Thompson, who simply replied, “I’ll see you Thursday.”

Dayton’s leading scorer – once destined to star at Ohio State – will instead take on the Buckeyes, a team whose roster is filled with former teammates.  Two years ago, Sibert was preparing for a Final Four run with Ohio State. Now, he’ll breakdown film of AAU teammate Aaron Craft and see familiar faces such as Thompson, Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Shannon Scott.

“When I saw our name pop up, I was just excited to be able to experience this with my teammates. We all worked hard this year,” Sibert told reporters Sunday night, smile still adorned to his face. “It’s been a tremendous year for us. Just to be able to get in the tournament is a blessing. Then to see it was against Ohio State. The whole thing, especially with me transferring from there, is exciting. I’m really at a loss for words.”

Walter Offutt, an Ohio State transfer who finished his career at Ohio University, tweeted, “Jordan Sibert gets a dream that every transfer wants!” Sibert confirmed that by revealing he’s often thought about facing his former school. Not that it seemed remotely possible.

“Anytime you transfer, for whatever reasons – and there are no hard feelings at all on my part with Ohio State – you always want to do your best,” Sibert said. “And if you are going against your old team, you want to put your best foot forward.

“It’s definitely exciting. It’s definitely a blessing to compete again at a high level against Ohio State. We’re just excited to have this matchup.”

The two schools, separated by just 72 miles of I-70, have only played nine times in their histories, and both universities have been playing for more than a 100 years. The only meeting in the last quarter-century took place in Columbus during the 2008 NIT.

Thad Matta’s scheduling philosophy doesn’t include schools from Ohio. And certainly not ones that could beat the Buckeyes. That’s what prompted Seth Davis to exclaim, “You can’t duck them anymore, Thad,” during the selection show.

Ironically, Matta said he was happy when he saw Dayton’s name appear on the television screen. Former Ohio State assistant Archie Miller is the Flyers’ head coach.

“My first initial reaction was I was so excited to see Dayton up there. I wanted Arch to get in the NCAA Tournament,” Matta said. “Then it was kind of like, ‘Ohh, here we go.’ But I’m so happy for him. And I’ll be honest, I won’t even see him down there. During the game, that’s irrelevant to me. It seems like the longer you do this, eventually it all comes full circle.”

Thursday will be the third time since 2007 Matta’s faced a former assistant in the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State won the previous meetings, both on buzzer-beaters against Sean Miller-coached teams.

There have been sporadic matchups against in-state schools, but the only games against the three premier programs – Dayton, Cincinnati and Xavier – have come in the postseason. In Matta’s 10 seasons as head coach of the Buckeyes, they’ve only had 10 regular-season games against Ohio schools.

“We’re just excited to have this matchup.”– Jordan Sibert

When you’re the flagship program in a state, there’s little benefit to playing a mid-major or perceived B-list school. If you win, you should have. If you lose, it’s an embarrassing blemish that could affect in-state recruiting.

This subject garnered headlines earlier this season when Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall said Kansas turned down a three-game series from the Shockers.   

“If it was best for our program, I would reach out to them about scheduling them. But it’s not,” Kansas head coach Bill Self told the Kansas City Star. “The one thing about being in coaching a long time and coaching at different schools and different levels is the fact that you understand that coaches schedule what’s in the best interest of their program.”

The same logic applies to Ohio State, no matter how loud fans shout that they want a four-team round robin tournament. But supporters of both schools got what they want, if only for a day. Sibert, too.

”This is not Jordan versus the Buckeyes or me against the Buckeyes,” Miller cautioned. “We’re all part of a team, and no one preaches team more than me.”

Sibert’s career has been resurrected at Dayton. He’s averaging a team-high 12.5 points per game on 46-percent shooting from the field. He’s a 44-percent shooter from 3, one of the missing links from the current Ohio State team. LaQuinton Ross and his 36-percent conversion rate from beyond the arc is the Buckeyes’ most reliable threat from long range.

Matta said he’s been an observer of Sibert and Miller’s successful season. But there is no regret in letting Sibert walk away from Ohio State. When the then-sophomore approached Matta following the Final Four in 2012, Sibert’s main issue was playing time.

Many expected Sibert to start his sophomore season, but Smith won the competition and Thompson took a bulk of the minutes off the bench. Eleven minutes a game dimmed the lights on Sibert’s junior and senior seasons.

“When he left, he said, ‘Look, I just want to play a lot.’ He’s definitely getting to do that,” Matta said. “He’s having a great career there. I’m one of these guys that, hey, as long as everybody’s happy where they are and what they’re doing, I’m happy for them.”

It isn’t all offense, all the time for Sibert. He’s also active on the defensive end, which should give coaches and fans images of Craft and Scott. Sibert is second on the team in steals. But his accuracy from three-point range will not be a familiar sight for Buckeye faithful. Sibert wasn’t a sharpshooting guard in Columbus and the go-to tag didn’t apply.

What if, though?

What if Sibert had stayed at Ohio State and progressed like he has an hour to the west? Might the Buckeyes be gearing up for a third consecutive trip to the Final Four?

Sibert doesn’t spend much time pondering what might have been. The here and now is where his focus lies. On Saturday, Sibert made his first trip back to Value City Arena since he left Ohio State. His high school – Cincinnati Princeton – was playing in the girls’ state championship.  

“Walking in was weird. It was kind of awkward,” Sibert said. “It felt familiar, though. But I was like, ‘This ain’t my home anymore – I’m a Flyer.’“


Comments Show All Comments

flying-banana's picture

It would be really awesome if we didn't lose to Dayton. I vote we win instead.

+16 HS
ab1993's picture

Proud grad of Princeton high school. We won the state championship with our girls' team this Saturday. I'm honestly torn about who I want to win. We don't really have a chance at going far in the tournament, whereas Dayton only occasionally gets there. I might have to root for Sibert

-7 HS
el duderino's picture

I believe the DVs tell the story on this, but in case they don't, you can hand in your fan card and here's the door, if you're planning to do anything but root for the Basketbucks to win on Thursday.

"This is a very complicated case: a lot of ins, lot of outs, lot of what-have-yous."

+2 HS
ab1993's picture

Of course I'll be rooting for the Buckeyes but I want to see Sibert do well

Seattle Linga's picture

Or else I will show you where the exit door is !! HAHA

+1 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

Yeah sibert should score 40...

... As long as the bucks win by 20

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

AlwayzABuckeye614's picture

I guess this is a feel good story because I am not worried at all about Jordan Seibert having some sort of 'redemption' game against O-State. If anything he may try too hard to impress and try to do too much. Nothing against the kid at all, I just feel the media is taking this and running with it. 

+1 HS
acBuckeye's picture

So Sibert wants to beat our boys bad. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Thompson and all of Sibert's former teammates want to beat him just as bad, if not more so.


+3 HS
Flyermike's picture

I am a little torn here as an OSU fan and UD grad.  I will be pulling for my Flyers, but if they lose and Craft and Smith Jr. get into an offensive grove I could get behind that.  I just want to see a good game.  It would be nice to see Sibert go off in this game.  He has hit some huge shots for us this year: game winner vs IPFW, late three against Gonzaga to take a 4 point lead, among others.  Not a stretch at all to say UD would be in the NIT without him.

btw...As much as I hate the Bearcats, they have to be included in the list of premier Ohio basketball teams.  OSU, Xavier, and Dayton have all played UC recently.  Xavier does on an annual basis (the only time I root for them).

+1 HS
Buckeye Chuck's picture

...When you’re the flagship program in a state, there’s little benefit to playing a mid-major or perceived B-list school. If you win, you should have. If you lose, it’s an embarrassing blemish that could affect in-state recruiting.

I think the risk of this is way overblown. We lost games to Dayton in the 1980s. Within a few years, we were back as a #1 seed in the NCAAs, and the Flyers program had fallen apart. 

Besides, it doesn't really make sense to avoid Dayton and play, say, Ohio as we did this seaspn. The Bobcats don't have the history of Dayton, but they had been the better program in recent years.

There are just too many advantages at Ohio State. As long as we have the right people in charge of the program, we'll be fine. The only school that has any chance of being a superior program for any length of time is the one that has actually done it, Cincinnati. But history has shown that there are enough players out there for both OSU and Cincy to thrive simultaneously. The two teams playing occasionally wouldn't impact that in any way.

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

+3 HS
Buckeye5000's picture

I am glad Jordan got what he wanted when he transferred to Dayton. I just don't think he is going to get what he wants on Thursday.

2014 Undisputed National Champions!

+1 HS
TheShookster's picture

Jordan is Dayton's best player, but they're acting like he's some prolific scorer. I believe his average is around 12.5 points a game. And he hasn't faced Aaron Craft yet. There is absolutely no reason why UD should beat OSU and yet I am terrified it's going to happen.

He ain't even stretch doe!!

+3 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

UD is a very up and down team - JS has improved his game since he left but AC will keep things in check. 

+1 HS
MacG91's picture

I always thought he would have a good college career. I went to highschool in the same conference as Sibert and when my high school was facing Princeton, it was close and we had Jordan Hicks guarding him and Sibert was crossing him all game, Ive never seen someone make Hicks look unathletic but Sibert owned him that game. He had the smoothest shot Ive seen from high schooler. Thought he would of fit in well at OSU. 


OSUFlash's picture

Hell yes losing to Dayton is very possible. There was supposedly not a snowballs chance in hell we get swept by PSU and lose at Nebraska but it happened. Losing to Dayon would probably subplant losing to PSU as the most devastating loss in Matta's career. And beating them would mean nothing except we get to play 1 more game.


daveyt11's picture

There was a time about 15 years ago when then Gov. Bob Taft wanted to introduce legislation to REQUIRE UC and OSU meet in BBall on an annual basis. Fortunately the state legislature realized they had a few more important things to deal with.

+1 HS
AJW_16's picture

Good for Sibert - glad that he has found the right situation for him.

On a related note, all of you Buckeyes who know UD fans will want to spend no fewer than 10 hours the next two days praying that OSU wins this one. I am a Xavier grad who roots for OSU as well, so the potential for never-ending bragging on the part of UD fans is an immense concern with me (especially with the selection committee jobing the Muskies and sending them to Dayton for the First Four). Dayton will most likely be playing in the NIT once again next year, but if they beat the Buckeyes you will literally never hear the end of it.

I cannot express to you the seriousness of this situation.

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

+2 HS
TheShookster's picture

I am a UD Grad and I cannot express how much I agree with you. I've been talking trash all week to everybody, and I am also praying with every fiber of my being that OSU wins this one.

He ain't even stretch doe!!

Flyermike's picture

Not sure I agree with you on this.  The UD campus is probably 60-70% OSU fans due to football.  Dayton doesn't quite have the inferiority complex that everyone in Cincinnati has.  OSU is the flagship program in the state, and UD hasn't done much to brag about lately.  If UD wins, that's awesome. NCAA wins are hard to come by with UD.  If OSU wins, most UD fans will be happy to have been in the dance and will continue to root for OSU.  I don't think it's quite as serious you say.

German Buckeye's picture

Grew up rooting for Roosevelt Chapman and Jim Paxton at UD, also Kelvin Ramsey and Herb Williams at OSU...so basically may the best team win.  Either if playing their best could keep advancing.  Thought this match up by the comittee was a poke in the chest to Ohio State.

-1 HS
CGroverL's picture

Sibert is a junior that is averaging 12.5 ppg for Dayton. Seeing that he was getting decent minutes for the Bucks, I think his transfer may have kept him out of the NBA. He didn't play last year and is a junior instead of a senior because of having to sit out a season for transferring..... If he had stayed a Buckeye, he would possibly be the leading scorer on this Buckeye squad and Buckeye leading scorers seem to be drafted every season. My words may be stretching it a bit, but I still will always think Sibert had NBA talent and his transfer was a mistake especially because he left to play more somewhere else instead of sticking it out, practicing, and progressing AS A BUCKEYE. I'll always think of him as a traitor that could have made it to the NBA...if he would have stayed in Columbus. Sorry...


"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



vitaminB's picture

Craft or Scott will lock him down.  He'll try too hard to do too much and force shots early.  Ohio State wins this one easily.  Syracuse, that's another story all together.

TLeeUpInThisJ's picture

First, I'm worried about this game. OSU's offense can go through very bad stretches of scoring no baskets and you can't do that in the NCAA tournament.

Second, Dayton's team includes a guy that couldn't cut it at OSU and a bunch of players OSU didn't want out of high school. If OSU can't beat Dayton on Thursday, this team should be ashamed. This team is assembled of JR's and SR's that Matta offered scholarships to over the guys that ended up at Dayton. I realize Dayton is a good basketball program, but when you take a step back and look at OSU's resources, the Buckeyes ought to win. If they lose (it could happen), this team will go down as a major disappointment this year.

Screw Sibert. He wasn't good enough for OSU and I hope Thursday's outcome reinforces that.

-2 HS
tennbuckeye19's picture

Thursday will be the third time since 2007 Matta’s faced a former assistant in the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State won the previous meetings, both on buzzer-beaters against Sean Miller-coached teams.

OSU actually didn't beat Xavier in 2007 with a buzzer-beater. The Ron Lewis shot sent the game into overtime. And then in OT, Mike Conley took over and OSU won 78-71.

+2 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

I was on Pins and Needles the entire game against X - Oden was very lucky he didn't called for his fifth foul in the waning moments of regulation