We've known Ohio State was all but certain to be going to the 2016 NIT. After Akron was upset by Buffalo on a buzzer beater in the finals of the MAC Tournament, as the regular season champions of the MAC, they were certain to be joining them. Now we know, despite their best scheduling efforts, Thad Matta's Ohio State Buckeyes will once again have to face a team from Ohio in the postseason.
The Buckeyes were announced Sunday night as a three-seed in the Monmouth-Florida quadrant and will play host to the Zips this coming week in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament.
When Ohio State last ran into a team from Ohio, Dayton, things didn't exactly end well for the basketball Buckeyes. Previous years' matchups against Cincinnati and Xavier fared better. OSU will have to hope that the 2016 incarnation follows in the latter's footsteps.
Akron checks in in the latest KenPom rankings as No. 85 overall. The Bucks are presently seventieth. Guard Antino Jackson and big man Isaiah Johnson pace the Zips whose signature win came against Iona way back in December, around the same time Ohio State shocked Kentucky.
The Buckeyes are 6-1 all time against Akron. The last time the two teams faced was at a similar point in their seasons: OSU and Akron squared off in the first round of the 1989 NIT. If Ohio State wins, it's not impossible they host a game against the Florida Gators. UF's O'Dome is presently being renovated. The two teams could also elect to play at a neutral site.
The Bucks and Zips tip off at 7 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN.