Photo: The Post
Ohio knew it was in the NCAA tournament on Saturday after winning the MAC Championship by beating Akron at the Quicken Loans Arena. It was only a matter of time before the Bobcats found out who and where they were playing on Sunday evening. Similar to Michigan, the Bobcats had to wait til almost the end of the Selection Show to find their fate. The Bobcats watched the show with a group of fans and addressed the media afterward to discuss their feelings on a return to the NCAA tournament and their matchup with Michigan.
After the jump find a collection of quotes, videos and reactions from Ohio staff and players about their connections to the Michigan program and much more.
Ohio’s reaction upon seeing their name was as you would expect:
Ohio head coach John Groce wants to build on his team’s success in the MAC tournament and has some understanding of what Michigan’s program is all about:
“It’s going to be a great challenge. Our guys obviously played two years ago and had some success, and right now, we’re playing some pretty good basketball. We’ve just got to find a way to stay mentally sharp this week and not lose the edge we had in Cleveland. I have some familiarity with their program and a bit of a feel for his style of play, so that helps,” Groce said. “But it is going to come down to executing our game plan.”
Former Ohio State guard Walter Offutt chimed in with his two cents on the match-up:
“I know some of their tendencies on offense and what they like to do defensively,” said junior guard Walter Offutt, whom Groce recruited to play at Ohio State before both left the program to join the Bobcats.
Offutt backed up his claim with a decent scouting report from memory:
“Oh yeah. I know some of their tendencies on offense, they run a lot of motion, back cutting and stuff like that, they shoot the three ball very well on all five spots. So we gotta be prepared to stop the three ball,” said Offutt.
Clark Kellogg’s son Nick felt that the Bobcats got a pretty good draw in the dance:
“We’re just excited to be in the tournament,” sophomore guard Nick Kellogg said. “I think coach (John Groce) would agree we got a pretty good draw. We’re going to work hard this week to prepare and we’ll be ready to go Friday.”
Stevie Taylor isn’t the only Ohio University player that knows a Wolverine or two. Nick Kellogg also played in the All-Ohio Red AAU program along with Trey Burke and Stevie Taylor while Walter Offutt knows Stu Douglass and Zack Novak from his days growing up playing in Indiana:
“I’ve got a couple friends on the team, that I played high school ball with, AAU ball with. Stuart Douglas and Zack Novak. They’re Indiana guys so I know them quite well. I actually got a text from ‘em right after we got picked. It should be a great matchup,” Offutt said.
Jordan Morgan also shares a connection with Ohio, he’s friends with, and played AAU basketball with, 6-foot-7 Ohio sophomore Jon Smith. Scouting reports and film sessions will obviously go far beyond previous friendships but all of the connections should add an interesting dynamic to the game.