Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
The early 1960s was a golden era for Ohio State basketball, but it could have been so much better were it not for the in-state rivals two hours down I-71.
The mighty Buckeyes were coming off of the 1960 national championship with Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek in tow. The Scarlet and Gray were ranked No. 1 in the country at the end of the 1960-61 and 1961-62 seasons, and they weren’t just winning, they were winning big.
Ohio State found itself in the 1961 national championship game after dispatching St. John’s by 26 points in the Final Four. Cincinnati awaited, but Oscar Robertson was no longer a Bearcat and the Buckeyes were heavy favorites.
Instead, unheralded forward Bob Wiesenhahn outscored Havlicek 17 to four and led Cincinnati to a shocking upset over the mighty Buckeyes.
Lucas and Havlicek returned the next season, and Lucas put together one of the best seasons in Big Ten history, scoring 21.8 points and grabbing 17.8 rebounds per night. The Buckeyes once again crushed everyone they faced in the NCAA tournament until the pesky Bearcats upset them in the national title game.
Ultimately, Ohio State came away with one national title and three Final Fours during the careers of Lucas and Havlicek, but it could have been so much better were it not for Cincinnati.