Men's Basketball: Ohio Draws UNC-Asheville In ESPN BracketBuster

By
Grant Burkhardt

Dateline
Updated Mon, Jan 30, 2012 9:50 pm
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Photo Credit: 
Ryan Young
Ohio's Walter Offutt and D.J. Cooper slap hands in the Bobcats' 87-65 rout of Kent State on January 18.

The last open spot on Ohio's regular season schedule has been filled by University of North Carolina-Asheville. Ohio will play its ESPN BracketBuster game on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.

The Bulldogs (16-7, 11-1 Big South Conference) are the 127th-highest RPI team in the country, per NCAA.com. UNC-A is leading the Big South, and its best win on its schedule is at home against Coastal Carolina (16-5).

Last season, UNC-Asheville lost 74-51 to one-seed Pittsburgh in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Bobcats were the eighth-highest ranked team (by RPI) that was designated as a home team for the annual BracketBuster pool. Only two of the 13 games will be broadcast online on ESPN3.com - the rest on the ESPN family of networks - and Ohio drew one of those two untelevised games.

"First thing's first, we've got Northern Illinois coming up on Wednesday," Ohio head coach John Groce said, on his weekly radio show. "[UNC-Asheville] plays fast...they've been more offensive in nature than defensive."

The Bobcats (17-4, 5-2 Mid-American Conference) are ranked 71st in the Jan. 30 RPI rankings - second highest in the MAC - and have won four straight games.

MAC East foes Akron (at Oral Roberts on ESPN/ESPN2) and Buffalo (at South Dakota State on ESPNU) got two of the 11 televised games. Ohio and Weber State (RPI 91) are the only two teams that will play on ESPN3.

After his initial answer, Groce's disposition turned sour when asked for a second time about his team not being on television.

"We clearly should have been on national television," Groce said. "That's the part I'm most disgusted about for our guys. Our guys deserve to be on national television. Period."

Ohio beat Winthrop by three in overtime in last year's BracketBuster game. Under Groce, Ohio is 2-0 in the BracketBuster game, which pits two mid-major basketball teams against one another to give the NCAA Tournament selection committee another game to evaluate. Teams are matched by similar RPI rankings and, most times, proximity.

This year's marquee match-up sees St. Mary's travel to the nation's only unbeaten team, Murray State.

Ohio leaves Tuesday for a Wednesday night game at Northern Illinois (2-17, 1-6 MAC). The Huskies have the 338th RPI in the country (of 344 teams).


@BobcatShowcase

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