While the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will be lacking scarlet and gray, the same cannot be said about the women’s 64-team field.
The official bracket was announced Monday night, in which the Ohio State women’s basketball team earned a No. 3 seed, setting it up with a first-round matchup against No. 14 seed Buffalo.
Tipoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Friday at St. John Arena in Columbus.
Buffalo will be making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament in program history. The Bulls took down Central Michigan in the Mid-American Conference championship game. They, as a No. 8 seed, became the highest-seeded team to win the MAC tournament.
Although coach Kevin McGuff has to be pleased with making the tournament for the second time in his three seasons at the helm for OSU, there is likely some bitterness after his team’s final four games.
Heading into the final two regular-season games, the then-fifth-ranked Buckeyes were amid an 11-game win streak, looking poised for, at least, a No. 2 seed, with an outside chance at a top seed.
They lost both in overtime.
Then, in the Big Ten tournament, OSU got past Rutgers in the quarterfinals, but senior guard Ameryst Alston suffered a wrist injury late in the game.
Without their second-leading scorer at full ability in the semifinals, the Scarlet and Gray were trounced by Michigan State, 82-63, a rather fitting coda to the disappointing four-game stretch.
After a nearly two-week break, OSU will hope to regain its footing and begin playing the team that took down Maryland, a No. 2 seed, twice during the regular season, as well as now-fourth-seeded Texas A&M.
If the Buckeyes are able to get past Buffalo, they’ll be set to face the winner of sixth-seeded West Virginia versus No. 11 seed Princeton on Sunday at St. John Arena.
OSU played three of the tournament’s No. 1 seeds — Connecticut, South Carolina and Notre Dame — during the regular season. The Scarlet and Gray lost all three matchups.
South Carolina is the top-seeded team in OSU’s region, which is a fortunate break for the Buckeyes because they only lost to Gamecocks by eight points when the two teams played in November.
Consequently, it makes a potential trip to the Final Four a little easier, as OSU won’t have to face perennial power UConn during its road to Indianapolis. The Huskies throttled the Buckeyes by 54 points on Nov. 18 in Columbus.
Last season, as a No. 5 seed, OSU lost in the second round on a last-second shot by fourth-seeded North Carolina.
The Buckeyes have reached the Final Four once in program history, in 1993. They lost to Texas Tech by two points in the championship game.
Prior to taking over at OSU, McGuff spent nine years as the head coach at Xavier and two at Washington. His best tournament run was a trip to the Elite Eight in 2010 at Xavier.