Jody Victor : Buckeyes Open 2008 NIT vs. UNC Asheville

Jody Victor: Ohio State enters the 2008 MasterCard NIT with a 19-13 overall record. Thad Matta, head coach of the Buckeyes, will lead Ohio State against first round opponent UNC Asheville (23-9). Ohio State is the No. 1 seed. The Bulldogs are the No. 8 seed. The winner of the game between the Buckeyes and Bulldogs will take on the winner of the game between California, the No. 4 seed, and New Mexico, the No. 5 seed. The second round NIT games will be played March 21,22 or 24.

The Buckeyes and Bulldogs have met just once previously, a 93-59 Ohio State victory Dec. 4, 1993 in Columbus. UNC Asheville is a member of the Big South Conference. The Bulldogs enter the game with the Buckeyes with a 23-9 overall record after a 10-4 league mark, which tied Winthrop, the Big South Conference Tournament Champions and NCAA automatic qualifier. Ohio State is 6-0 against Big South teams all-time. The Buckeyes are 1-0 vs. Coastal Carolina and UNC Asheville and 2-0 vs. Radford and Virginia Military Institute. The Buckeyes defeated VMI 90-57 Nov. 25 at St. John Arena this season.

Ohio State is making its eighth appearance in the NIT all time. Overall, the Buckeyes have a 13-7 record in NIT postseason tournament competition. Ohio State won the event in 1986, 73-63 over Wyoming, and advanced to the finals in 1988 before a loss to Connecticut 72-67. The Buckeyes last played in the NIT in 2003, a loss to Georgia Tech in Atlanta (72-86).

But tonight Buckeye fans can cheer them on. The game is in the Value City Arena at 7 pm, televised on ESPN2.


Jody Victor