Friday has featured two 15-seeds pulling off upsets, and that will take away a little of the national appeal of 13-seed Ohio’s 65-60 win over 4-seed Michigan in a Midwest Region battle.
But to be fair other than the seeds this didn’t have the look of a “major” upset. Point guard D.J. Cooper ran the show, finishing with a game-high 21 points to go along with five assists in a very good performance.
Three other Bobcats finished in double figures as they shot 51% from the field, limiting the Wolverines to 41% shooting on the night. Trey Burke led the Wolverines with 16 points and five assists, and Evan Smotrycz added 15 off the bench.
But Smotrycz lost control of his dribble with Michigan trailing 63-60, leading to a pair of Walter Offutt free throws that sealed the game. While the result may be a surprise to those who simply see the seeds, this came as no surprise to either the Bobcats or the Mid-American Conference.
Two years ago Cooper put forth a virtuoso performance to lead Ohio to an emphatic win over then 3-seed Georgetown, making this the second time in the last three seasons that the Bobcats have not only reached the Dance but won a game.
MAC teams have posted a 2-6 record in their last eight NCAA games, and both wins belong to Ohio. Next up for John Groce’s team will be either Temple or USF, who meet in the final game of the night in Nashville.
Ohio took care of the basketball (nine turnovers) and did a good job of finding quality shots, and if they can duplicate that on Sunday there’s no reason why they can’t pick up another victory.