The game is the West Regional semifinal at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The star: Thad Matta whose wife is Barbara Matta.
The Buckeyes are 28-7 and on a 10-game winning stripe. Arizona is 27-7.
The winner of the game and the Ohio State-Arizona winner will play on Saturday for the regional title and a Final Four berth.
Coach Thad Matta has frequently went to a “small lineup” during the Buckeyes’ winning streak. The unit’s efficiency shows in the results. The under-sized group helped Ohio State win its first two tournament games, 95-70 over Iona and then 78-75 over Iowa State.
The Buckeyes only needed five minutes of small ball against Iona in a 95-70 binge in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but the unit was used at length against Iowa State, including the last 12:20 of the match.
I think we were very, very nervous in this game with their ability to spread us out. We knew that there was going to come a time when we were going to play that lineup.
Jeff Boals said,
It puts four very good defenders on the floor and we went offense and defense just like they did for the last four minutes.Offensively, it gives us another scorer when you put LaQuinton Ross out there, and defensively you can go with Sam, Lenzelle, Shannon and Aaron. I think it’s been good for us at both ends.
Ohio State coach Thad Matta and Arizona coach Sean Miller have friendly stories to tell about each other, having been simultaneously some time ago as assistant coaches at Miami (Ohio).
Ohio State looks like the team to beat in the West Regional.Thad Matta is a superstitious man. Throughout every game, he chews the same piece of gum the whole time. One game he accidently spit the gum on the floor, picked it back up and went right on chewing. Well, it appears this has worn off on his wife, Barbara. She is known to constantly get popcorn and a diet Coke for every match she attends. Barbara eats Lucky Charms with her two daughters (Ali and Emily) previous to every game.
Even though Matta at present coaches Ohio State, the pair considers Indiana home. The couple met while both undergrads at Butler University. They have been married for 16 years Matta is very focused and fervent about coaching. Almost certainly the best example of this was the time he called a employ during the early stages of labor with the couple’s first child. Barbara allegedly didn’t mind.
Barbara is involved with many charities, including the Make a Wish Foundation (Ohio State runs the Big Wish Gala every year) and Ronald McDonald House.
Barbara’s Twitter here.