The Virginia Cavaliers take on the Ohio Bobcats in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Division I MenÕs Basketball Tournament held at at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on March 20, 2021 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Grant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
The Virginia Cavaliers take on the Ohio Bobcats in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Division I MenÕs Basketball Tournament held at at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on March 20, 2021 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Grant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Ohio Men’s Basketball: Some Things to Take Away from Ohio’s Win over Virginia

Posted on:

< < Back to

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WOUB) — As many have been made aware, the Ohio Bobcats made some noise last night and became the official bracket busters last night when they knocked off the defending National Champions, the Virginia Cavaliers, 62-58 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on the campus of Indiana University.

To many casual College Basketball fans, this seems to be a shocking upset as the representative of the Mid-American Conference, described as a mid-major conference, knocked off the champions from the 2019 NCAA Tournament and the 2021 regular season champion of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which is called one of the premiere conferences in College Basketball. However, to Ohio players and fans, this type of win was inevitable, as earlier in the season, the Bobcats came within a basket of upsetting the Illinois Fighting Illini 77-75, who are a one seed in this tournament.

“I think coming in here, they had confidence and they had a belief,” Ohio head coach Jeff Boals said.  “I told them after the game: The power of unity, belief and confidence is huge. If you go all the way back to the Illinois game, we showed we can play with anybody in the country. No disrespect to Illinois, but I thought we should have won the game. That game really set the tone and helped us win this game from a confidence standpoint.”

The Bobcats don’t always make the NCAA Tournament, as before this season, the last time Ohio had made it to The Dance was in 2012. However, in the case of Ohio, it’s quality over quantity. The last three times the Bobcats made it to Tournament play, 2010, 2012 and 2021, they won their round of 64 game, beating Georgetown, Michigan and Virginia. The banners of those teams still hang in the rafters of the Convocation Center back in Athens and are always a reminder to Boals about what can happen when a team is constantly working together.

“We walk in, I do, I look at the banners every single day that I walk in,” Boals said.  “From my press conference two years ago to every single practice. I think something like that shows that it can happen. None of our guys had ever played in a MAC tournament up in Cleveland before. They were loose, they had fun. They were talking, listening to music before the game. It showed in Cleveland.”

Going back to that 2012 squad, led by DJ Cooper, Walter Offutt and Nick Kellogg, they were also a 13 seed and were able to knock off Michigan in the first round and then beat the 12 seed in the region, the South Florida Bulls, where they advanced to the Sweet 16. The Bobcats were just a point away from upsetting the one seed, the North Carolina Tar Heels, but Ohio eventually fell in Overtime. This year’s Bobcats have been reminded of that team a lot recently and have been receiving a lot of words of encouragement from the 2012 squad.

“Yeah, we’ve heard some things about it,” Ohio Redshirt junior Ben Vander Plas said.  “A great team. We saw some of the players from that team sent messages on social media, some tweets and stuff. To see their support, it just feels really good. It’s really exciting to have them behind us, too.”

While Vander Plas and Jason Preston have been receiving a boat load of attention for their performances in the game, they weren’t alone in their effort. One player that was a key factor in the victory was Ben Roderick. The sophomore Forward was second in the team in scoring with 15 points on the night and arguably had one of the biggest shots of the night. With Ohio leading 53-49 with nearly a minute left, Vander Plas fired it across to Roderick on the right wing who

faked out a jumping Reece Beekman and then let it go and it dropped into the basket, giving Ohio a 56-49 lead as the Ohio bench and fans erupted.

Another Bobcat who didn’t necessarily get a ton of playing time, but someone Jeff Boals said was a key last night was Miles Brown. The Sophomore guard didn’t get any time in the first half, but had many key defensive plays in the second half and was a instrumental part of a stretch where Virginia only made one of thirteen field goals, that allowed Ohio to grab the lead past the midway mark of the second half.

“Miles Brown, for him not to play in the first half, come in and play some great defense in the second half,” Boals said.  “The way they play, I mean, they were a 40% three-point shooting team coming in. We messed up the one handoff late where they cut it to two. But our guys made some big-time plays on both ends down the stretch.”

In an arena that has had so many iconic college basketball moments, most notably when Christian Watford hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to knock off top-ranked Kentucky in 2011, The Bobcats made a few bits of history last night during the win. Among the most memorable, was the Bobcats got their fourth win as a 13 seed or lower since 1985, the most in NCAA Tournament history. Seems the Bobcats thrive off of being a low seed.

Preston also made a bit of history with his performance. His 11 points, 13 rebounds, all of those defensive, and eight rebounds, is the first time a player in an NCAA Tournament game to have 13 rebounds and eight assists since 1998.

The last bit of history for the Bobcats was that they were part of the most 13 or lower seeds to advance to the round of 32 in NCAA Tournament history. Ohio, alongside fellow 13-seeded North Texas, 14-seeded Abilene Christian and 15th seeded Oral Roberts, all pulled off upsets in the first round to advance in the Tournament, knocking out Virginia, Purdue, Texas and Ohio State in the process.

It has been a weird four-year stretch for the Virginia Cavaliers. In 2018, they made history as the first one seed to ever be knocked out by a 16 seed in the men’s tournament when they fell to the UMBC Retrievers 74-54. In 2019, they rebounded in a huge way by winning the national championship. The 2020 Tournament was cancelled due to Covid-19 and in 2021 they fall in the first round to a 13 seed after being the ACC regular season champions.