Published Wed, Mar 14, 2012 1:41 pm Dateline
Updated Fri, Mar 16, 2012 5:24 am
In Ohio's last trip to the NCAA Tournament, the 14th-seeded Bobcats weren't given much of a chance against the third-seeded Georgetown Hoyas.
The spread for the game was Hoyas minus-13.5. This year's Ohio team is getting some love before Friday evening's game against Michigan. This year's 13th-seeded 'Cats are just six-point underdogs to the fourth-seeded Wolverines and analysts are not afraid to take Ohio in the upset.
ESPN College Basketball Analyst Doug Gottlieb has Ohio advancing in his bracket.
"[Dj Cooper] is absolutely fearless... this is a very good perimeter defensive team." Gottlieb said. "[Ohio] is 13th in the country in defense against the three, Michigan lives and dies by the three, I'm going to go with defensive numbers over offensive numbers."
Fran Fraschilla, Gottlieb's ESPN companion and a former Ohio assistant, has the Bobcats making the Sweet 16 in his bracket, and fellow analyst Jay Bilas has Ohio as the team seeded 13th or lower most likely to pull the upset. Bilas doesn't have Ohio beating Michigan in his bracket, but thinks the 'Cats have the best shot of making noise in the "Big Dance" for a team 13th or lower.
Ohio point guard Dj Cooper acknowledges he's seen the picks.
"We watch ESPN everyday, you know, it's just a little different seeing your name pop up on the screen, plus announcers giving you a little credit." Cooper said, but the national attention is just a part of the larger goal.
"It's a standard of ours anyway, we're trying to build a program"
Teammate Reggie Keely, who has been on the same page as Cooper on the floor, appears to be on the same wavelength.
"I watch it, but at the end of the day you still have to play the game," the junior forward said. "We just have to go out there and compete no mater what, if somebody's picking us or not. If they pick us that's fine, but you still have to win."
Keely was one of three current Bobcats who were a part of Ohio's win over Georgetown in 2010 (Cooper and Ivo Baltic were the other two).
Ohio fans shouldn't worry about this team "drinking the poison" of success, as head coach John Groce likes to say. Cooper, one of the 'Cats leaders, is confident his guys won't buy into the hype.
"We're an older crew, we're not going to fall into getting a lot of love on TV and stuff like that, we just want to keep coming to practice every day hard."
All of the talk gets silenced on Friday at 7:20 p.m. EST, when No. 13 Ohio squares off with No. 4 Michigan in Nashville, Tenn. in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.