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Matta: No need for ‘wake-up call’ in first round


Ohio State doesn’t have a history of early exits from the NCAA tournament. In 29 appearances, the Buckeyes have lost their first game four times.

Ohio State has won its first two games the last four years. Its last first-round exit came in 2009 when it was seeded eighth and lost 74-72 in double overtime to No. 9 Sienna.

Thad Matta has his team ready more often than not for the early rounds, and he was pleased to draw the Dayton Flyers in the second round at 12:15 p.m. Thursday in Buffalo because he knows he won’t have to convince his team this is a game it needs to take seriously. The Buckeyes already know that.

“I think for this team it’s a great thing,” Matta said. “I say that because there won’t need to be a wake-up call. There won’t need to be a, ‘Who is this? Who are they? What conference are they in? I haven’t heard of that guy’ or anything like that. I like that from that perspective.”

Future series: The Ohio State Buckeyes and the Dayton Flyers played in the NIT in 2008, but they haven’t played in the regular season since the 1980s (1985-88). Asked about the lack of meetings between the Flyers and Buckeyes, Matta sort of danced around the answer.

“We played Dayton a few years ago,” Matta said. “That doesn’t really concern me. The fact that we’re going to Buffalo, that this is Ohio State’s sixth NCAA tournament in a row, when I think the most they’d ever done before was three years. I’m excited for this team and the opportunity to play again.

“We’re a better basketball team than we were when we left Columbus for Indianapolis (and the Big Ten tournament). No matter who you’re going to play in the NCAA tournament, it’s going to be a really good basketball team.”

No regrets: Jordan Sibert shot 25 percent from 3-point range as a freshman at Ohio State and 26 percent a year later. In his first season with the Dayton Flyers, he’s shooting 44 percent from long range and leading the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game.

Still, Matta doesn’t ask himself what might have been when it comes to the Buckeye turned Flyer.

“When he left, he said, ‘Look, I want to play a lot,’ ” Matta said. “He’s definitely got to do that. He’s having a great career there. I’m one of those guys, as long as everyone’s happy in terms of where they are and what they’re doing, I’m happy for them.”

Teammates divided: The Dayton-Ohio State game will get extra attention in the Boston Celtics locker room. Former Flyer Chris Johnson, who played for Dayton in 2009, the last time it made the tournament, is a teammate of former Buckeye Jared Sullinger.

Steve Bulpett, a UD grad who covers the Celtics for the Boston Herald, wrote Sunday on Twitter that when told UD would play Ohio State, Johnson smiled and said, “Where’s Sully at?”


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