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Mid-majors still searching for respect

Dayton's Devin Oliver (5) celebrates with teammates after

Dayton's Devin Oliver (5) celebrates with teammates after a third-round game against Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament in Buffalo on Saturday, March 22, 2014. Credit: AP / Nick LoVerde

What goes around comes around is probably the statement of the week.

We’ll start with Ohio State, which hardly ever plays any of its in-state rivals (Dayton, Xavier, Cincinnati). The NCAA Tournament selection committee changed that temporarily as the No. 6 Buckeyes squared off against 11th-seeded Dayton in a second-round game on Saturday.

Call what you want; a case of the basketball Gods punishing the Buckeyes for mistreating its “little brothers” or just plain old karma. Ohio State lost a heart-breaker to state rival Dayton, 60-59 on Saturday.

This isn't the first time the Buckeyes had a tournament battle with an in-state school. Xavier took Ohio State to overtime in a second-round game in 2007.

That near miss for the Buckeyes didn’t prove to be the beginning of anything. Despite being just two hours from each other, the Buckeyes and Musketeers have only met four times. And that includes the 2007 game in the tournament. 

For anyone who thinks the loss to Dayton will prompt the Buckeyes to start scheduling some of its in-state rivals, forget it.  It’s always been difficult to get some of the major programs to play high level mid-major teams in their own state unless it is part of a non-conference tournament.

Basically, the big boys see it as a lose-lose. Beating a mid-major with a lower RPI won't help the major conference squad that much at tournament selection time. A loss to a mid-major with a lower RPI, however, would have huge implications.

Ohio isn't the only state experiencing this.

Kansas hasn’t played Wichita State in 20 years. Kansas coach Bill Self told ESPN’s Andy Katz it wouldn’t help the Jayhawks financially to play games “away from Allen Fieldhouse since that’s our main source of budget every year.”

While it’s understandable that the Jayhawks don’t want to give away home dates, Self could have his squad play the Shockers every other season.

Kudos to Indiana and Purdue, though, which both play Butler on a semi-regular basis. Villanova also deserves credit for still keeping the Philadelphia Big Five tradition alive by playing St. Joe’s, Temple, Penn and La Salle every season.

Iowa, Iowa State play Drake and Northern Iowa all play each other nearly every year because it’s great for the state.

Now on to Duke. Coach K was critical of the Atlantic-10 when most in the college basketball media community were predicting the league would get six teams. His words came back to bite him as five of the six ACC teams that made the field will be watching the tournament from home when the Sweet 16 begins Thursday.

Coach K's 3rd-seeded Blue Devils fell to No. 14 Mercer in a second-round game.

Making matters worse for Coach K, two of his fellow ACC squads (N.C. State, Syracuse) fell to Atlantic-10 teams (Dayton, St. Louis). The Atlantic-10 will have the same amount of teams in the Sweet 16 as the ACC, one.

This doesn’t mean the tide has turned in favor of the Atlantic-10. With Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Syracuse part of the ACC and Louisville scheduled to join next season, the ACC will once again be one of the nation’s best conferences.

But for one season at least, the little guy gets the last laugh.

New York Sports