Now the real fun begins for the Ohio State men’s basketball team.
The Buckeyes begin their NCAA Tournament run Thursday as a No. 2 seed in the East Region against No. 15-seed Loyola (MD). OSU is favored to win its tournament opener and, according to U.S. President Barack Obama, it is the beginning of a long stay in the final competition of the 2011-12 season.
OSU (27-7) cemented its placement in the East Region, in which the regional championship will be held in Boston, with a run to the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game Sunday. There, OSU lost to the tournament’s top seed, Michigan State, 68-64.
OSU will meet the Loyola Greyhounds (24-8) of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Greyhounds defeated Fairfield, 48-44, to win the MAAC conference championship March 5.
Loyola is led by junior forward Erik Etherly and sophomore guard Dylon Cormier, who average 14 and 13 points per game, respectively.
Despite Etherly and Cormier’s offensive efficiency, Obama said he would like the Buckeyes to dispatch of the Greyhounds, and then some.
During an ESPN segment that has aired on national television and on ESPN.com, Obama filled out a bracket for the tournament and selected OSU to emerge as the East Regional champion.
Obama also mentioned Buckeyes’ sophomore forward Jared Sullinger by name, calling the player “terrific.”
Sullinger leads the Buckeyes with 18 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Game time for Thursday’s contest between the Buckeyes and Greyhounds at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh is set for about 9:50 p.m.