Iona Gaels vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Tip-off: Friday, March 22, 2013 – 7:15 PM ET
University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, OH
Even when the Ohio State Buckeyes haven’t done a great job in Dayton since Thad Matta’s been the head coach — never made it through the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament intact – this is still a very special place for him.
That left-handed shot for the Butler Bulldogs — coming out of a timeout in which his coach listed the other four players as scoring options — is still something Matta can’t forget. So are those less-joyful days in front of the 13,409 blue and red seats, when he was calling plays during timeouts for Ohio State. Second-seeded Buckeyes (26-7) are only 1-2 in Dayton during the NCAA tournament under Matta.
However, YouWager experts still consider that when it comes to bad moments in the building, those Buckeyes have nothing on the Iona Gaels (20-13), their rival for tonight. Iona had the biggest meltdown in NCAA tournament history on that court in 2012.
The Gaels pulled out to a 25-point lead over the BYU Cougars late in the first half in a First Four game, then squandered all of it and lost 78-72 for a place on the wrong side of tournament history — biggest blown lead. Only four players are still left from that team, and they tried hard not to let those bad feelings creep back when they returned to the arena on Thursday.
When the new-look Iona college basketball team was having a hard time coming together early in the season, coach Tim Cluess reminded them of that NCAA disappointment and what they needed to do to get an opportunity to go back to the tournament and give a better showing.
The Gaels don’t really have a good NCAA tournament memory. Iona is 1-8 in the tournament, but that win — 84-78 versus the Holy Cross Crusaders in 1980 — was later vacated because of NCAA violations.
An upset of the Buckeyes on their close-to-home court would be one of the biggest in a season that online sports betting fans can all agree has been full of such surprises.