INDIANAPOLIS — Ohio State fell by dumb luck into a nearby all-Ohio showdown. Michigan fell from atop the bracket.
Not that either was complaining.
While weekend losses dropped the rivals a seed lower than hoped in the 68-team NCAA tournament field unveiled Sunday night, both were ready to dive into the madness.
Ohio State (25-9) will head to Buffalo as a No. 6 seed — its lowest positioning since 2009 — with an opening-round game against Dayton.
Michigan, which lost its bid for a top seed after falling 69-55 to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament championship game, is off to Milwaukee as a No. 2 seed in the Midwest region. The Wolverines open against Wofford (20-12), which finished third in the Southern Conference but snared an automatic bid by winning the league’s tournament.
Both second-round games are Thursday, with OSU tipping off at 12:15 p.m. and Michigan at 7:10.
The Buckeyes’ brush with 11th-seeded Dayton (23-10) of the Atlantic 10 comes saturated with storylines, from Ohio State’s reluctance to schedule in-state opponents — a lose-lose scenario for the top program in any state — to a line of connections. Flyers coach Archie Miller is a former OSU assistant while Buckeyes transfer Jordan Sibert is UD’s leading scorer (12.5 points).
"So there won’t need to be a wakeup call," OSU coach Thad Matta said. "There won’t need to be a ‘who is this, who are they?’”
Ohio State is 4-2 all-time against the Flyers, with their last meeting a 74-63 Buckeyes win in the quarterfinals of the 2008 NIT. If OSU beats Dayton, it would advance to play the winner of third-seeded Syracuse’s opener against No. 14-seed Western Michigan. The Broncos claimed the Mid-American Conference’s automatic bid with a 98-77 win over Toledo in Saturday’s league tournament title game.
If the Buckeyes escape Buffalo, their path in the South regional in Memphis could include Florida — the tournament’s top overall seed — and second-seeded Kansas.
"I’m just excited for this team and the opportunity to play again," said Matta, whose Buckeyes fell to Michigan in a Big Ten tournament semifinal. "We’re a better basketball team than when we left Columbus for Indianapolis."
Michigan, meanwhile, watched ACC champion Virginia get the up-for-grabs last of four No. 1 seeds.
"Yes, but at the same time, I like the position we’re in," Wolverines forward Glenn Robinson III said.
Senior Jordan Morgan described the team’s mood Sunday night as "not disappointed but not super excited, either."
"We’re ready to go," he said.
UM is on course for a third-round game Saturday against the winner between seventh-seeded Texas and No. 10-seed Arizona State. If the South bracket holds, UM would play top-seeded and undefeated Wichita State in a regional final in Indianapolis.
ROSS, STAUSKAS HONORED: Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross and Michigan’s Nik Stauskas were named to the Big Ten’s all-tournament team, joining Michigan State’s Gary Harris, Adreain Payne, and Branden Dawson.
Ross averaged 21.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in Ohio State’s three tournament games. Stuaksas averaged 17.5 points in three games.
©2014 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)
Visit The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) at www.toledoblade.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services