A Thad Matta Trifecta


Unfortunately for Chris Holtmann and the 2020 Basketball Buckeyes, COVID-19 took away their opportunity to etch their own March Madness history. Holtmann would have had the Buckeyes in the NCAA tournament for a third straight year. Instead, the coronavirus pandemic ended college basketball prematurely so hoops fans can only imagine what could have been and/or look back at what was.

For Buckeye fans, what was, during the Thad Matta era, was pretty special. Matta's teams made one trip to the national championship game, two Final Fours and five Sweet 16's including a run of four in a row from 2010-2013. In terms of historic dates, March 24 produced three of Matta's most historic wins.

Both of Matta's Final Four teams won their regional championships on this date. The 2007 Buckeyes became South Regional champions by beating John Calipari's Memphis Tigers 92-76. Senior Ron Lewis scored 22 points to lead the Buckeyes, with freshman point guard Mike Conley scoring 19 and freshman big man Greg Oden putting in 17, with 9 rebounds. Five years later, the 2012 Buckeyes won the East Regional with a 77-70 upset of top-seed Syracuse. After being saddled with first half foul trouble, sophomore Jared Sullinger led OSU with 19 points, 15 of which came in the second half. Lenzelle Smith, also a sophomore, played arguably the best game of his Buckeye career, coming up huge with 18 points. One year to the day later, point guard Aaron Craft hit the biggest shot of his storied Ohio State career, drilling a last second 3-pointer as the Buckeyes beat Iowa State 78-75, advancing to the Sweet 16 for a program record fourth consecutive year. Matta won a school record 337 games at Ohio State. This March 24 trifecta of games were without question three of the bigger wins in his 13-year run as Buckeye coach.

If you want to take a stroll down Buckeye Basketball memory lane, check out the highlights and/or the games below.