One night after clinching their first postseason tournament title since 2012, the Ohio Bobcats received their initial assignment, drawing the #16 Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
This season will see the entirety of the tournament set to take place in Indianapolis, Indiana, and will employ an “S-curve” assignment system to “[place] teams on the bracket based on rankings without the usual considerations for geography,” per release. Ohio was considered the #51 overall seed in the field of 68 teams, placing them as a 13-seed in the West region.
The #16 Cavaliers are considered the current defending champion of the NCAA Tournament, after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, which had its major start during the conference tournament season last March.
The Cavaliers stand at 18-6 overall (13-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) and had their last victory against Syracuse, winning the game by a final score of 72-69 to advance to the ACC Tournament semifinals. Virginia was forced to withdraw hours later, upon the discovery of a positive COVID test linked to someone on the team, allowing Georgia Tech to advance to the ACC tournament finals. (The Yellow Jackets eventually won the tournament, clinching the ACC’s automatic bid.)
Virginia did not withdraw their name from consideration for the NCAA committee in charge of assembling the tournament, and were subsequently selected as a result of their resume.
The Bobcats stand at 16-7 overall (9-5 Mid-American Conference) and are on a hot streak of late, winners of five of the last six contests they’ve appeared in, including a Cinderella run through the re-configured MAC Championship Tournament where they eliminated the fourth, second and first seeds en route to the title. They ran away with an 84-69 victory over the Buffalo Bulls to secure their March Madness berth, their first since 2012.
However, during said streak, they also had two cancelled games and five postponements, due to COVID-related issues, which affected them as other contributors were also trying to come back from injury.
The West region could be considered a “bracket of death,” as the #1 overall seed Gonzaga Bulldogs top the region, and Virginia is still considered the title holder, despite winning said title in 2019. Should Ohio pull off the upset, they could draw a fellow mid-major team as an opponent.
Here is how their quadrant shook out:
Our portion of the bracket ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/4d7smEKG4l— Ohio Men's Basketball (@OhioMBasketball) March 14, 2021
The first round of the NCAA Tournament is scheduled to tip off on March 20, with times to be determined. Venues are also TBD, with Mackey Arena, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium all set to host first-round games.