The Ohio State Buckeyes are headed to the Final Four for the first time since 2007, the year they lost to Florida in the national championship game, as the representatives of the East regional after they knocked off the No. 1 Syracuse Orange on Saturday.
The Buckeyes' road to New Orleans started during the March Madness selection show shortly after they lost to the Michigan State Spartans in the Big Ten tournament finals. You see, the loss meant they would not be a No. 1 seed and, instead, they were given a No. 2 in the East. Who knows if it would have been a perfect swap had they defeated the Spartans for the second time in a week, but Ohio State arguably received the much better draw as the No. 2 seed rather than the No. 1.
After beating No. 15 Loyola Maryland by 19 in the officially titled Second Round, the Buckeyes drew No. 7 Gonzaga, who defeated No. 10 West Virginia by 23. Ohio State staved off a late comeback attempt by the Bulldogs to advance to take on the intrastate No. 6 seed Cincinnati. The Buckeyes again had to bounce back from a valiant run by their opponent, but in the end comfortably moved on to the next round to play the No. 1 seeded Syracuse.
In the Elite Eight, the Buckeyes matched up very well with No. 1 Syracuse, who were playing without their best big man Fab Melo because he was ruled ineligible before the tournament. Many believed Syracuse, who barely escaped Wisconsin in the Sweet 16, without Melo was already exceeding expectations, so a loss to Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas and the Buckeyes was no stretch of any imagination.
Sure enough, Sullinger and Thomas made the Orange pay in the front court, scoring 33 points and grabbing 16 rebounds combined in helping the Buckeyes win 77-70 and advance to the Final Four in New Orleans.
Thomas' performance against Syracuse was actually his worst of the tournament, but he has 89 points in the four tournament games thus far and isn't sorry about it.
Ohio State isn't done, of course, and have to get through No. 2 Kansas from the Midwest region in order to make it back to the championship game.
Tip off will be on Saturday approximately 40 minutes after the conclusion of the Louisville-Kentucky game, which tips at 6:09 p.m. ET.
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