Published Sat, Aug 20, 2011 3:46 pm Dateline
The last time Ohio men's basketball faced an opponent from the Big East was March 18, 2010 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Twenty months after a magical win over Georgetown, Ohio will get another chance to prove its mettle against a national power.
The Bobcats will travel to the University of Louisville on November 25 to play the Big East's Cardinals, which are coached by Rick Pitino and have made the NCAA Tournament in five consecutive seasons. Louisville was the number one overall seed in the 2009 NCAA Tournament and made the Final Four as recently as 2005.
The two teams met in December of 2008, with then-11th-ranked Louisville downing Ohio 91-56. This year's contest, on the day after Thanksgiving, will be Ohio's fifth game of the season and first away from the Convocation Center.
Ohio starts the 2011-12 season with three home non-conference games - Tennessee-Martin, Lamar and Arkansas State - before playing Louisville. Then after a five day break, the 'Cats travel to Marshall to play the Thundering Herd. Marshall and Ohio split two games last season, with Ohio taking the postseason contest 65-64 in the CIT. Other notable games in the non-conference include a road trip to Oakland (MI) and home contests with St. Bonaventure and Robert Morris. The 'Cats were winless against those three teams last year.
With a January 7 game at Bowling Green, Ohio starts its Mid-American Conference slate: 16 games in less than two months against the rest of the MAC. Ohio hosts Ball State on January 28 in a rematch of last season's MAC Tournament quarterfinal in which the 'Cats blew a late lead and were knocked out by the Cardinals in overtime.
The annual Battle of the Bricks between Ohio and rival Miami (OH) will be played January 21 in Athens and March 3 in Oxford, which is the last game of the regular season.
With the MAC postseason format being changed for the 2012 tournament, much more importance is placed on the conference regular season because the top two seeds in the tournament need to win only two games to make the NCAA Tournament. In three seasons under head coach John Groce, Ohio is just 23-25 in conference regular season games. Last year, the Bobcats were 9-7 in the MAC and were seeded fifth in the conference tournament. In 2012, the fifth seed in the MAC Tournament would need to win five games in less than a week to advance to the NCAA Tournament.