Ohio's Jeff Boals cuts down the net following the Bobcats' MAC Tournament championship on Saturday, March 13, 2021. (Photo: Bryan Kurp/WOUB)
Ohio’s Jeff Boals cuts down the net following the Bobcats’ MAC Tournament championship on Saturday, March 13, 2021. (Photo: Bryan Kurp/WOUB)

Ohio Men’s Basketball: Bobcats Matched With Virginia In First Round Of NCAA Tournament

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Ohio now knows who it will play in the first round in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Ohio men’s basketball team celebrates following its MAC Championship on Saturday, March 13, 2021.

The Bobcats are the No. 13 seed in the West Region of the bracket and face fourth-seeded Virginia in the first round.

“We were an underdog for three-straight games in Cleveland,” Ohio head coach Jeff Boals said.  “We’ll go in free and loose.  We expect to win, we’re going to go compete to win.”

The winner faces off against either Creighton or UC Santa Barbara in the round of 32.

The Bobcats will be in a bubble in Indianapolis for the duration of their stay.  All teams that made the tournament were expected to arrive in Indianapolis by Sunday.  The Bobcats will hold closed practices this week at a convention center near the team hotel and players will be tested several times a week.

The Virginia Cavaliers (18-6, 13-4 ACC) are the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season champions and won the last national title played in 2019.  The Cavaliers reached the ACC semifinals but dropped out of the ACC Tournament because of COVID-related problems.

The Cavaliers are not currently in Indianapolis and in quarantine following positive tests.  Virginia needs seven consecutive days of negative COVID tests before it can join the bubble in Indianapolis, which could be as early as Friday, according to head coach Tony Bennett.

Ohio is coming off three-straight victories as the fifth seed in the MAC Tournament to secure a spot in the big dance.  The Bobcats only played one Power Five opponent this season, No. 8 Illinois, and only lost by two points.

The Bobcats were last in the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and made a run to the Sweet 16.  The Bobcats defeated Michigan and South Florida that year before falling the North Carolina.

Ohio has been to the NCAA Tournament 15 times.

The game will tip-off Saturday at 7:15 p.m. at Assembly Hall on the campus of Indiana University.  The game will be televised on truTV.