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NCAA Tournament Preview East Region - First Round (16) Texas-San Antonio/Alabama State winner vs. (1) Ohio State

Friday, March 18 - Approximately 4:40 PM ET


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Top-ranked Ohio State enters the 2011 NCAA tournament as the No. 1 seed in the East Region, and the top seed overall, after repeating as Big Ten tournament champions on Sunday. The Buckeyes also won the conference’s regular season title in commanding fashion, enough to bring a 33-2 record to the Big Dance. The Buckeyes will play the winner of the First Four game winner between Texas-San Antonio (19-13) and Alabama State (17-17) in Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena on Friday. The game between 16-seeds UTSA and Alabama State will be held at the University of Dayton on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time.

This is OSU’s fifth tournament appearance under coach Thad Motta, in his seventh season. The Buckeyes are 45-25 all-time in their 26 NCAA tournament appearances, winning the national championship game once, in 1960. Last year, OSU lost to Tennessee in the Sweet 16, 76-73. Motta’s team lost the 2007 national championship game to Florida, 84-75 in his third season coaching the Buckeyes.

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Ohio State has four players averaging scoring in double figures this season, led by freshman center Jared Sullinger with more than 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. Junior guard William Buford averages 14 points per game, and senior guard Jon Diebler averages 12.5 points. David Lighty, averaging just under 12 points per game, is from Cleveland and is sure to have lots of hometown Buckeye fans in attendance at Quicken Loans Arena.

Ohio State’s only losses this season were at Wisconsin on February 12, 71-67, and at Purdue on February 21, 76-63.  In the Wisconsin game, the previously unbeaten and top-ranked Buckeyes led by 15 at the half; in the loss to the Boilermakers, Sullinger said that a lack of focus and toughness were a factor. Frankly, though, both losses came to teams that did not drop a single home game all season long. This is why Ohio State is the top overall seed in the NCAA’s field of 68 teams. The Buckeyes avenged their loss to the Badgers at home on March 6 by a score of 93-65. OSU was powered by Diebler’s 27 points, with the marksman leading a team that hit 14 of 15 3-pointers, including all 14 after missing the first – an NCAA record. The Buckeyes then put a capper on their dominant conference season by defeating Penn State in the Big Ten Conference Tournament championship game, 71-60, shooting 51 percent from the field in the process.

Ohio State’s 45.4 field goal percentage is second in the nation, and its 41.3-percent shooting clip from 3-point range is fourth in the nation. The Buckeyes lead the United States by drawing an average of 14.3 fouls per game from their opponents. This contest won’t be noteworthy for its own sake, but it will show the George Mason-Villanova winner (in the 8-9 game attached to this subregional pod) what it will be up against in Sunday’s second round of the NCAA Tournament.

By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer
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