Pairings announced for #EmeraldCoastClassic. Great matchups on Friday, Nov. 24— Emerald Coast Classic (@EmeraldCClassic) May 23, 2023
—@AlabamaMBB vs. @OhioStateHoops
—@SantaClaraHoops vs. @OregonMBB #BasketballOnTheBeach ️ https://t.co/CC3DjWevlf pic.twitter.com/TfEmWO5COS
For the second time in three seasons, Ohio State’s men’s basketball team will take a trip down to Florida in late November to take part in an eight-team tournament. The Buckeyes will take part in the Emerald Coast Classic on Nov. 24 and 25 in Destin, Florida, which will be held on the campus of Northwest Florida State College. Ohio State played in the Fort Myers Tip-Off early in the 2021-22 season.
Even though there will be eight teams playing in the tournament, Ohio State has already been announced as a semifinal team. The Buckeyes will take on Alabama on Friday Nov. 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Depending on the result of the semifinal matchups, Ohio State will then play either Oregon or Santa Clara the following day. Mercer, Tennessee State, Southeastern Louisiana, and Western Michigan will be the other teams playing in the Emerald Coast Classic.
Prior to heading down to Florida, the Buckeyes will host Western Michigan in Columbus on Sunday, Nov. 19 as part of the event. Ohio State has played the Broncos on three previous occasions, with all three of those meetings coming between 1986-88. Following seven seasons with at least 20 wins during the 17 years Steve Hawkins was in charge at Western Michigan, the Broncos have really struggled over the last three seasons, going 21-62 over the last three years. Last season was the first season under head coach Dwayne Stephens, who was a former point guard at Michigan State.
In their semifinal game, Ohio State will take on Alabama. The meeting will be the seventh all-time against the Crimson Tide on the hardwood, with the last one coming in 2002. The game was part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts. At the time the Crimson Tide were ranked fourth in the country, and eventually rose to the top spot in the country before struggling after the calendar turned to 2003. The win over Ohio State was the second straight win against the Buckeyes, as Alabama won 85-67 in February 2001 when the teams met in Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide are coming off a season when they went 31-6 and won the SEC regular season and conference tournament titles. Even though Alabama earned those honors, it was a disappointing season for Nate Oats’ team, as they were bounced from the NCAA Tournament by San Diego State in the Sweet Sixteen.
There were serious issues off the court the program had to deal with, as Darius Miles was charged with capital murder. There were also questions about Brandon Miller’s involvement when it comes to the gun used in the murder. Miller continued to play for the Crimson Tide, but following the season he declared for the NBA Draft. Along with Miller, Charles Bediako, Jahvon Quinerly, Ohio transfer Mark Sears, and Noah Clowney have all declared for next month’s draft.
If Ohio State plays Oregon, it will mark the first meeting between the schools in basketball since 1992. The Buckeyes won that meeting 79-75 in Portland when the teams met as part of the Far West Classic. The only other times the teams have squared off came in 1971, with the Buckeyes earning a 68-57 victory. The Ducks are coming off a season where they posted a 21-15 record. Oregon missed the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season, but they did earn a spot in the NIT, winning two games before falling to Wisconsin in Eugene in the quarterfinals.
Oregon should bounce back next season, as they had a number of starters returning, as well as some strong recruits and transfers headed to Eugene. N’Faly Dante will be back for another season after averaging 13.4 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game in the 2022-23 season. Along with Dante, Jermaine Cousinard is the other key returning player who is back for the Ducks. Joining the program are transfers Kario Oquendo from Georgia, Arizona State’s Devan Cambridge, and five-star recruits KJ Evans and Mookie Cook.
The other team Ohio State could meet on Nov. 25 is Santa Clara. The schools have split their two previous meetings. Santa Clara won the initial matchup 71-69 in 1983, and Ohio State evened up the series 88-41 in 2001. The Broncos have held their own in the WCC recently, winning at least 20 games in three of the last four seasons under former NC State head coach Herb Sendak. Despite some of their recent success, Santa Clara hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since the 1995-96 season.
The Broncos will have a big hole to fill heading into the season after Brandin Podziemski declared for the NBA Draft. The guard averaged 19.9 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game last year. Podziemski’s draft stock has been rising following his performance at the NBA Draft Combine, and there is talk he could be a lottery pick. Santa Clara is hoping Arizona transfer Adama Bal will be able to step in for Podziemski.
No matter who the Buckeyes play on Nov. 25, it will be a long day for Ohio State fans. For the first time in 26 years, “The Game” and an Ohio State basketball game will be played on the same day. The last time both Ohio State played their fiercest rival in football, and the basketball team played the same day was in 1997 when the Buckeye basketball team hosted Robert Morris at St. John Arena.
If Ohio State loses to Alabama the day before, they’ll play at 4 p.m. ET. if the Buckeyes win, they’ll play a few hours later at 7 p.m. ET.