The Buckeyes learned today that their (hoped for) road to the Final Four begins in Buffalo, where they will play the Dayton Flyers in an in-state matchup that’s filled with intrigue.
The Buckeyes are a sixth seed, as I predicted. Members of Buckeye Nation are outraged, but you can’t lose twice to Penn State and to Indiana and hope for a high seed. I think a sixth seed is entirely fair, and I also get tired of the whining about OSU getting no respect. I hope the players on basketball team, at least, understand that they need to earn respect by playing well and winning a few games.
That’s not going to be easy, because Dayton is a very good team, as well as being a great basketball school with a rich heritage. The Flyers play in the tough Atlantic 10, where they finished 10-6 and lost a very close game in the A-10 Tournament. UD has size and scoring. In fact, their leading scorer is Jordan Sibert, a former Ohio State Buckeye who came in as a heralded recruit and left when he wasn’t getting a lot of playing time. He’ll be looking to prove something in this game — and that’s the first intriguing storyline. The second is Dayton coach Archie Miller, who was on Thad Matta’s staff at Ohio State. He’ll also be hoping to make a statement.
But the biggest bit of intrigue is that OSU is playing UD at all. In Ohio, the Buckeyes are the big dog, and teams like Dayton yearn for a chance to show they can go toe-to-toe with the big boy, and win. If the Flyers can stay close — and with this Buckeyes team, that seems like a virtual certainty — the pressure on OSU will become immense as the game progresses. It should be a very interesting game.
If you want to win the NCAA championship, you need to beat good teams. Ohio State has drawn one of those good teams for its first round matchup. On Thursday, we’ll see whether the Buckeyes can bring the Flyers down to earth.