Ohio State headed to Pittsburgh to start NCAA Tournament

Ohio State will begin the NCAA Tournament not far from home.

The men’s basketball Buckeyes are the No. 7 seed in the South Regional and will play No. 10 Loyola-Chicago at 12:15 p.m. on Friday in Pittsburgh.

ExploreOhio State endures rough finish to the season

“I love the fact that it’s close and close for our fans, and we’d love to see them on Friday,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said Sunday night.

The Ramblers (25-7) are the Missouri Valley Conference champions and getting are set to play in the tournament in back to back years for the first time since 1964.

Ohio State (19-11) finished in a tie for fourth place in the Big Ten and lost in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament to Penn State on Thursday night.

The winner of the OSU-Loyola game will play No. 2 Villanova or No. 15 Delaware in the second round Sunday.

The Buckeyes have lost four of their last five games, but playing Friday gives them an extra day to rest and heal after big men Kyle Young (concussion protocol) and Zed Key (ankle) and point guard Meechie Johnson (ankle) missed their last game.

“Another day for us is certainly needed, and those guys are making progress,” Holtmann said. “I’ll make more statements on that once I have more information, but certainly if we were going to play in the First Four tomorrow night, it wouldn’t look good for our group. So they just need to continue to make progress.”

ExploreWright State to open NCAA Tournament at UD Arena

Ohio State is in the tournament for the fourth time in a row it is being held, and the Buckeyes will be looking to put behind them an embarrassing 75-72 overtime loss to No 15 seed Oral Roberts last year.

They went out in the second round in their first two NCAA Tournament appearances under Holtmann in 2018 and ‘19.

The 2020 tournament was canceled because of COVID-19, but the Buckeyes were likely to have received a bid.

“For us to now be an NCAA Tournament team five straight years, when you include the COVID year when we were gonna be a five or a six seed depending on how the Big Ten Tournament went, there’s only been one other stretch since 1965 in Ohio State basketball history that’s been longer than that, and that was Thad (Matta) went seven straight years (from 2009-15),” Holtmann said. “So to be able to do it five straight years, and also to be one of three Big Ten teams to qualify five straight years is something that I want our guys and our program to feel good about. And we’ll move quickly into our preparation for a Loyola team that’s had a tremendous year and is really talented.”

Ohio State has not advanced past the opening weekend of the tournament since losing to Wichita State in the Elite Eight in 2013.

Loyola made the Sweet 16 last year and went to the Final Four in 2018. The Ramblers were the darlings of the tournament in the latter year.

Both schools enter the Big Dance looking for their second national championship and first since the 1960s.

Ohio State won the 1960 title then lost in the final to Cincinnati in ‘61 and ‘62. The Ramblers beat the Bearcats the following year and finished in third place in 1964.

About the Author