When it comes to college basketball, the state of Ohio is the anti-Illinois. There may be no Midwest swing in the region’s most populous state this year (the Land of Lincoln) but there’s plenty in the Buckeye state.
The birthplace of aviation has seen their teams soar in the NCAA Tournament this year, as they went 8-0 on the first weekend. They comprise one fourth of the sweet sixteen: the Ohio Bobcats, Cincinnati Bearcats, Xavier Musketeers and Ohio State Buckeyes.
Between Ohio’s four teams, Wisconsin’s two (Badgers and Marquette), the Indiana Hoosiers and the Michigan State Spartans, the NCAA Tournament at this point has a very distinctive Midwestern feel. Throw in the Bluegrass state’s two teams (Kentucky and Louisville) and Kansas, and this sweet sixteen is dominated by non-coastal, breadbasket teams.
It’s just too bad Illinois had zero teams on Selection Sunday for the second time in three years.
Xavier and Cincy both making it this far makes for an interesting storyline considering the horrific brawl that was a black eye for college basketball in December. Both of these Queen City rival teams were on the bubble in early March. Cincinnati played their way in during the final week of the regular season, and then greatly improved their seeding by upsetting Syracuse in the Big East Tournament. They’ll take on the Buckeyes in their next game, so the state of Ohio will finally see one team lose in the next round.
The Buckeyes lost in this exact round the past two years. It was quite an upset last year when they were the tournament’s overall #1 seed, and the year before when they were a #2 seed with the nation’s best player, Evan Turner, leading them.
As for Ohio, they are America’s sweethearts right now as the lowest seed #13 still alive. They upset the Michigan Wolverines and then beat a fellow double digit seed in South Florida to get here. They’re not the only double digit seed here, as the #11 seed NC State Wolfpack are still alive.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
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