The Ohio St. Buckeyes have experienced something of a renaissance under coach Thad Matta. Thanks to some gangbuster recruiting, the team has made the Sweet 16 four times, and is now appearing in its second Final Four since Matta took over the program in 2004. The Buckeyes have earned a Top 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament in five of the last seven seasons, staking a claim among college basketball's elite.
However, the one thing conspicuously missing from Matta's resume is a national championship. For all of the Big Ten conference titles and great players who have passed through the program in recent years -- names like Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. and Evan Turner -- the Buckeyes are still pursuing that ever-elusive title. Ohio State last won the NCAA tournament in 1960, back when the event somehow featured 28 teams.
This season, the Buckeyes are again close to glory, earning a national semifinal bid after taking out Loyola, Gonzaga, Cincinnati and Syracuse to advance. They are led by sophomore Jared Sullinger, a 6'9 power forward who has been wreaking havoc on opponents with a wide array of post moves. Helping him out are the likes of senior Williams Buford, and point guard/lockdown defender Aaron Craft. Sophomore Deshaun Thomas has led the team in scoring during the tournament, averaging almost 22 points per game.
Standing in Ohio State's way Saturday is a Kansas Jayhawks squad that is pretty talented in its own right. Bill Self's team features 6'10 forward Thomas Robinson (17.9 ppg, 11.8 rpg), creating what should be a fascinating matchup in the paint with Sullinger. The Buckeyes are as close as they've been since the 2007 tournament when they lost to Florida in the title game or any time since the 1960s.
Matta has built a proud tradition at Ohio State. With a title, he would create a legend.