Buckeyes, Bearcats Agree To Renew Court Rivalry
Throughout the Thad Matta era, the Ohio State men’s basketball program has tended to avoid facing off against fellow in-state programs and one of the most vocal detractors of that approach has been University of Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin.
Matta’s successor, Chris Holtmann, is lifting the Ohio school moratorium and, as it turns out, will begin that change of policy by opening the door to … the UC Bearcats.
In fact, the two schools will open the 2018-19 season and 2019-20 season by playing each other — marking their first encounters since a memorable Sweet 16 matchup in the 2012 NCAA Tournament that the Buckeyes won, 81-66. The agreement was announced on Tuesday.
The Bearcats will open a newly-renovated Fifth Third Arena against the Buckeyes in 2018 with Ohio State playing host in Columbus in 2019. Although dates for the games have not been determined, the game will take place on the first allowable date of competition in each of the next two years.
Holtmann said the two historic programs opening the season against each other is a tremendous opportunity to showcase each program.
“We have great respect for the UC program and Coach Cronin,” he said. “The idea of challenging ourselves in the nonconference while also providing an attractive game for our collective fan bases certainly made sense to us. We understand the challenge of opening the season on the road vs. a high-caliber opponent with a younger team provides some risk but we felt like it was the right decision at this time.
“We will continue to work to put together a challenging and attractive nonconference schedule in the future within the constraints of the Big Ten schedule as well as the games that have already been contracted.”
Cronin, of course, echoed Holtmann’s excitement in getting the series scheduled.
“This is a great thing for Ohio, for basketball in Ohio and for the fans of these great universities,” he said. “I want to thank everyone involved in making this happen. We are very excited about reopening our arena next season. Supporting this and agreeing to play Cincinnati in a home-and-home series is a first class move by Ohio State, Coach Chris Holtmann and the OSU administration.”
In the 10 meetings between Ohio State and Cincinnati on the hardwood, the Buckeyes have won six, although two of the four losses came in the national championship game — 1961 and ’62. OSU was ranked No. 1 in the country in each of those contests while UC was No. 2.
The teams have not met during regular-season play since 1921, which was the home opener for the Buckeyes and the only previous time the teams opened the season against one another. The Bearcats won that game, 33-17.
Ohio State played host to Cincinnati in five of the first six meetings, going 3-2 in those games. Ohio State has not played the Bearcats in Cincinnati since Jan. 3, 1920, a 35-13 win for the Buckeyes.
Three of the last four meetings have come during NCAA Tournament competition with all of the last four matchups contested on neutral courts.
No. 4 Ohio State downed the Bearcats 72-50 in the Wooden Tradition in Indianapolis on Dec. 16, 2006. OSU went on to the national title game that season while Cronin worked on rebuilding the undermanned Bearcats.
In the 2012 postseason encounter in Boston, the Buckeyes were ranked No. 7 in the country. Their 15-point win enabled them to match up with Syracuse in the Elite Eight, and OSU won again to advance to the Final Four.
The all-time series results follow:
Feb. 4, 1905 – Ohio State won 42-6 in Columbus
Jan. 15, 1907 – Cincinnati won 32-30 in Columbus
Jan. 16, 1909 – Ohio State won 57-24 in Columbus
Jan. 20, 1912 – Ohio State won 61-15 in Columbus
Jan. 3, 1920 – Ohio State won 35-13 in Cincinnati
Dec. 10, 1921 – Cincinnati won 33-17 in Columbus
March 25, 1961 – Cincinnati won 70-65 in overtime in the NCAA championship game in Kansas City, Mo.
March 24, 1962 – Cincinnati won 71-59 in the NCAA championship game in Louisville, Ky.
Dec. 16, 2006 – Ohio State won 72-50 at the Wooden Tradition in Indianapolis
March 22, 2012 – Ohio State won 81-66 in the NCAA East Regional Semifinals in Boston