The Ohio State Buckeyes and Kent State Golden Flahes look to take their first steps on the path to One Shining Moment today as both teams play their opening round games in the NCAA Tournament.
The Buckeyes take the floor at 12:25, and face the #15 seeded Davidson Wildcats, who they ironically faced in the first round the last time they appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2002. The Buckeyes struggled with the then #13 seeded Wildcats, but persevered 69-64 before getting their lunch handed to them in the second round by the #12 seeded Missouri Tigers. Davidson is led by the dynamic duo of Brendan Winters and Ian Johnson, both senior forwards. Davidson finished with an 18-10 record this season and cruised through their conference tournament, beating Chatanooga in the finals by 25 points.
The Buckeyes should have a nice home court advantage, as many of the Buckeye Nation made the trek from Dayton to Columbus. The Buckeyes need to pounce on Davidson early, and make the crowd a factor. I look for Ohio State to have a good day shooting the basketball, led by Je'Kel Foster, and easily handle Davidson this time around. The winner of this contest will face the winner of Georgetown - Northern Iowa, which takes place 30 minutes after the Ohio State - Davidson game ends. The Buckeyes are eleven point favorites.
Kent State faces the Pitt Panthers tonight at 7:15 PM in a game that will be seen by much of the midwest. This game is also rematch of a meeting in the 2002 tournament, except this one took place in the Sweet Sixteen. Kent won that game, an overtime thriller, to advance to the Elite Eight before ultimately losing to Indiana.
The Panthers were a highly ranked team all season, and were 24-7 on the year. They are led by the inside out combo of point guard Carl Krauser and center Aaron Gray. They are an incredibly physical basketball team, and are one of the top rebounding teams in the entire country. This is a better shooting Pitt team that past versions, but the emphasis here is still defense. Kent is a six point underdog in the contest.