Ohio coaches, players react to Michigan matchup

Dylan Burkhardt

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.

  • Alex

    Nervous but excited.

    Got to focus completely on this first game and can’t be distracted what the media say and what fans say. Obviously this is meant for the team.

    Still, nervous and excited at the same time.

    • Hail

      I feel the same way because it’s win or go home now. But I think this team is ready to roll and will be focused for a nice run at this. Beilein knows how to prepare with the best of them.

      We were playing well before last weekend and we’ll get back to that form. I really don’t think much of their B1G Tourney performance. Most fans like myself probably didn’t care much about what happened at that tournament. I think that’s how the team felt and it showed. They didn’t need a win and they already accomplished the regular season title. Winning the tournament after that is a “Cool, but meh” feeling.

      Friday can’t come soon enough! Go Blue!

      • a2sk

        I think and hope they cared a lot about winning the B10 tournament, as they should care about winning every game they play – that’s what it takes to win championships, which has been their goal.  Unfortunately, once the conference dropped the full round-robin schedule they previously had, the tournament became the more important event.

        That said, I hope and expect they will play better on Friday.

        • Hail

          I also expect a better performance Friday and have a lot of confidence in this team.

          Don’t want to go off topic here, but I do disagree about conference importance. The conference regular season is far more important than the conference tournament imo.

          • a2sk

            The general perception is that the conference tournament is more important.  For example, that’s what the automatic bids are based on.  But, in principle, I agree with you – I’d rather compare teams based on a season’s worth of games instead of a single elimination tournament.  But the season championship lost some of its legitimacy when they abandoned the full round-robin format.  In the current approach, it is too easy to argue that one team had an easier schedule than another.  I would prefer to see the conference give up some of the meaningless non-conference games against weak opponents and go back to a full home-and-away schedule against every team in the conference.  It would be a really brutal conference season, but it would create a regular-season championship that no one could argue with.

          • Hail

            I completely agree with you on scheduling a full home-and-away conference schedule. I’ve always thought football should try that as well.

            The weak non-conference games are perfectly fine in the very beginning of the season, but shouldn’t take away from playing a full conference schedule. Like you said, it’d be brutal but let’s really find out who the conference champ is.

  • Fvsdevin

    Sportscenter just had a “breaking bracket alert” at the top of their 6pm block to announce the first big upset of the tournament was going to be Ohio over Michigan.  

    Jay Bilas has been doggin on us all year man.  This Michigan team gets zero respect from the media.  

    • MGoTweeter

      if that is the first big upset of the tournament, then a whole lot of chalk is going to be moving on since there are only 4 first round games after Michigan plays.  

      Bilas will always dog Michigan, partly because of his love for Amaker and probably partly because of the fab five.  I loved his backhanded compliment that Michigan was over-seeded by under-aprecciated, whatever that means.

    • UMQuasi

       He also just picked Michigan as the most likely 4-or-worse-seed in our region to make the Elite 8.

      That’s what happens when people continue to think that the team lives and dies by the three

  • Giddings

    I think John Beilein’s chances have been underrated in every NCAA Tournament he’s ever coached in. Of course no one expected WVU to make the runs they did, most people had us losing Clemson in 2009, and everyone had us getting blown out by Tennessee last year. So it doesn’t surprise me (or phase me) at all that the pundits are picking him to lose again this year.

  • ZRL

    I feel like all the analysts are exhibiting a lot of recency bias and making too much of our last game. All year, Michigan seemed to be the sexy pick of the “team no top seed wants to face come tournament time”. Now, one bad performance and we are being picked as the top seed most likely to get upset in round 1. Oh well, I think our team enjoys being the underdog anyway.

  • section13row15

    This will be a fun game to watch but U-M is not going to lose to a MAC school in the first round. I like how we play against over aggressive defenses because we tend to have a better shot selection, often getting back door cuts and faking the three for a better shot inside the arc. Memphis comes to mind where we shot a high percentage from two, later opening up the 3.

  • Fresh

    It is always fun when michigan is picked against and then they come out and kick the poop out of these other teams.   5 mins after the brackets were complete i think seth davis said ” oh yeah i like temple over michigan in the 2nd round”  UM never gets any love even when they deserve it.   didnt michigan just finish in first in the big ten? 

  • Bobcats

    Ohio over Michigan easily on Friday. Lock of the week. Guaranteed.

    • Mattski

      And welcome to you, good deluded Sir! Please promise to come back and beg forgiveness after the loss. 

  • Taylorobe

    As a Bobcat fan, I really like what I’ve seen on this site! I’m not going to make predictions because MI should win the game, but it is “March Madness you know!!!

    • Jimmy

      From watching the two minute player video I can say that Ohio seems to have quality kids Good luck to you guys.  Go Blue!

  • Joel_C

    Schools in Ohio sure do like to spell “Ohio”