Ohio State-University of Cincinnati: Battle to the NCAA Tournament

Craig RouseContributor IJanuary 19, 2010

During the entire season football season, Ohio residents debate over who has the better program, Big 10 Champion Ohio State University or Big East Champion University of Cincinnati.

This clash has the same hype during the basketball season and the run to the NCAA tournament. The Ohio State University has a record of 13-5, while the University of Cincinnati has a record of 12-6. Both teams play in two of the best conferences in the country with ranked opponents night in and night out and are looking to receive an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.

Will Cincinnati start a new streak and make it into the field of 65 for the first time since the 2004-2005 season? The University of Cincinnati men’s basketball program has not been in the NCAA tournament in over five years.  Cincinnati had a streak of fourteen straight appearances in the tournament that ended in 2005. The streak, that included a legendary coach and All-American players, looks to begin again in Cincinnati as fifth-year head coach Mick Cronin turns the program back into a NCAA contender.

Coach Cronin has turned the team into a NCAA contender over the past couple of seasons, but couldn’t win the big games to get over the hump and get into the tournament. For example, last season in the first round of the Big East tournament, his team lost to a winless-conference team in DePaul and had numerous non-conference and conference losses which should have been wins.

With Saturday’s win over ranked-Notre Dame, the 12-6 Bearcats look to make it to the NCAA this March. A school known for basketball in its long history turned to football program over the last five years, but will soon be a two-sport school with the likes of Florida, Texas, and Ohio State.

While the Ohio State University is known with the likes of Florida and Texas as having one of the best athletic programs in the country, their basketball team is looking to continue this season’s success and receive a bid in the NCAA tournament. Since the 2003 season, the university has only been to two NCAA tournaments which includes the 2007 title game where they lost 84-75 to the University of Florida. Coach Thad Matta has prepared his team for the NCAA tournament every year, falling just short of a bid the last two years.

Both universities are known for their rich tradition of success in NCAA tournaments with three championships combined. Ohio State won one in 1960 followed up by two from Cincinnati in 1961 and 1962. Cincinnati beat the same team twice for their only two championships, and that team was The Ohio State University.

Both Coach Cronin and Coach Matta would love to get back those days when two great teams from Ohio were running the championship game for the NCAA tournament. Even if their teams aren’t on top, getting to the championship game will be a great accomplishment for both of these teams in the years to come.